Apprentice spotlight

February 3, 2020

Ryan Irving Carr is head of property at Bernicia, a North East-based housing association that provides high-quality, affordable homes and services. Here, he shares his career journey which began with an apprenticeship

What led you to join Bernicia?

I was looking for an opportunity where I could get recognised qualifications and gain experience while earning a wage. I’d heard good things about Bernicia as an employer; its values and commitment to providing opportunities for development appealed to me so when I saw they were taking on apprentices, it ticked all the boxes and I applied.

Tell us about your journey at Bernicia from the apprenticeship to where you are now?

I started as a plumbing apprentice in 2012, working in the responsive repairs department. There I learnt technical knowledge that would prove invaluable later in my career. I also gained experience in customer service, which has stood me in good stead as I’ve progressed with the organisation. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to benefit from exciting opportunities. In 2014 I joined the technical services team as a trainee building surveyor, working towards a BSc Building Surveying through part-time study. Since then and with the support of my colleagues, I have progressed onto roles as project coordinator, asset investment programme manager and now head of property.

What have been some of your biggest achievements with the company?

I was involved in the successful delivery of a stock investment budget exceeding £60 million. I had personal responsibility for complex and interesting projects such as estate sustainability and regeneration contracts, full internal refurbishment projects and environmental schemes. In terms of qualifications, I have achieved NVQ Levels 2 & 3 in Plumbing & Heating, an NVQ Level 3 in Domestic Energy Assessment as well as my degree in building surveying. While I was studying, I was awarded both apprentice and student of the year awards – a proud achievement that made all the hard work worthwhile.

How has Bernicia and the sector more broadly changed since you started?

They have both changed significantly. Following a successful merger in 2016, Bernicia now has more than 14,000 homes and provides property and estate services to over 60,000 customers in the North East. The housing sector has faced many challenges, including meeting the demand for social housing and welfare reforms that directly impact social tenants. Despite these pressures, Bernicia has continued to thrive resulting in an investment strategy which has seen significant investment in our properties and services including £70 million to build 600 new homes, £60million investment in existing homes and a £50million in responsive repairs.

What advice would you give to the next generation of apprentices?

A positive attitude goes a long way and will be appreciated by those you are working with. Ask plenty of questions, even if you feel they are trivial, and also seek help when you need to. An apprenticeship is a learning experience and you are not expected to have all the answers. Most importantly, I would say, be committed – who knows where the opportunity could lead!


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