UNEMPLOYED young people are being given the chance to earn while they learn with a new apprenticeship programme.

Sentinel Housing Association has re-launched the scheme in partnership with Academy 4 Housing.

It has welcomed three new Basingstoke apprentices – Charlotte Adams, 18, from Oakridge, Luwana Osterbry, 22, from Popley, and Aimee Watts, 18, from Oakridge.

During the next year, the new recruits will gain practical experience working with Sentinel’s neighbourhood, customer service and property service teams, while studying towards an NVQ level 2 in housing.

Martin Nurse, chief executive at Sentinel, said: “We think apprenticeships are a great way to provide work and training – particularly for young people.

“With the latest youth unemployment figures at 22 per cent, we’re proud to be part of the national drive to deliver work-based training. By giving young people a chance to kick-start their careers, we are growing the local skills base and supporting the local economy.”

Last year, three out of four Sentinel apprentices went on to full-paid employment.

Andrew Craig, managing director of Academy 4 Housing, said: “Appren-ticeships are the most successful way to develop and retain effective employees. The training ensures apprentices engage in living the vision and the values.

“We are delighted to be working with Sentinel to support the development of these young adults and to provide them with the necessary skills to start their careers in the housing sector.”

Stacie Ezard, who completed a successful apprenticeship last year with Sentinel, is now employed by the organisation.

The 23-year-old, from Popley, said: “This has been an amazing journey and my confidence has soared. I feel very lucky to have been able to work and study at Sentinel, and I’ve been so well-supported.

“An apprenticeship is a process of self-discovery, so to anyone thinking about taking this career path, I’d say go for it.”

Each apprentice is supported by a Sentinel mentor and supervised by an Academy 4 Housing assessor to help them get the best out of the scheme.

Sentinel has committed to providing 25 apprenticeships over the next three years at their offices and through their partners, offering them hands-on experience and the chance to gain qualifications as well as getting paid.

Sentinel will announce details of more opportunities soon.