Monday 7th February

It is less than a year since Jacob Milne spotted an opening for an apprenticeship within the property services department at the Heart of England Co-operative Society.

The 16-year-old was still a pupil at Blue Coat School in Coventry when he saw the vacancy on the government website and decided to apply.

He has now been with the Society for four months, shadowing senior members of its property services department, and already he says he is learning the ropes and looking forward to a bright career in property – a dream he has had since childhood.

Jacob is one of four apprentices who have recently started with the Society, with recruits also in IT, the Food Category Team and Finance.

“I knew I always wanted to work in property,” said Jacob. “Whether commercial or real estate.

“I’ve always found it interesting and I think as a career it will stand me in good stead in the future.”

Jacob is certainly being kept busy at the Society.

Celebrating 190 years in business this year the retailer operates a chain of 35 Food stores and 16 Funeral homes across Coventry, Warwickshire, south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire.

As well as a rolling programme of renovations the Society continues to expand its property portfolio every year – with another two Food stores scheduled to open in 2022.

As part of the 12 subject areas which make up the apprenticeship Jacob is studying legislation in areas such as health and safety, manual handling and hazardous substances, risk assessment, customer service, corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

Upon successful completion of the course he will be able to take on facilities roles ranging from overseeing the cleaning of Society premises, through to security, maintenance and engineering.

In line with the Society’s ethos of developing every member of its team to their full potential he will also have the chance to continue in his studies.

Jacob said: “A typical day here at the Society can really vary. Once a month I’ll do a fire check on the whole building. I shadow the maintenance team a lot and often will visit the various stores to see the maintenance that needs to be undertaken.

“This is interesting as I’ll get involved in liaising with our Store Managers and have also dealt with contractors.

“Every one of our sites has its individual needs and priorities.”

Jacob said his goal in the short-term is completing his apprenticeship and gaining a permanent, full-time position with the Heart of England Co-operative Society.

Over the long term he hopes to climb the ladder and build a successful career in property

“The Heart of England Co-operative Society is a great business to work for. Help is always at hand and I am mentored by senior members of the team. In fact I recommended them to a friend and he started here in January.”

John Bridges is Head of Property Services at the Heart of England Co-operative Society.

He said: “From a department perspective Jacob has been great. He is our first apprentice within Property Services and has changed the dynamics for us in a really good way. Whereas we all have a lot of skills and experience and have worked here a long time, Jacob has brought a fresh and youthful approach to the team. When we’ve shown him how to use our facilities management system he’s picked it up really quickly so that we’ve only had to show him once!

“I think it’s indicative of his age and his generation. Jacob has been a welcome addition and already is proving a valuable asset.”

Mia Jones joined the Society in the summer of last year.

The 19-year-old, from Holbrooks in Coventry, is working towards an Infrastructure Technician Level 3 apprenticeship, again in partnership with LMP, and spends four days a week completing practical work – as part of the Society’s IT helpdesk team – and one day a week training.

Mia first noticed the vacancy on recruitment website Indeed. At the time she was looking for work. Today she is eight months in to the course, scheduled to take a year to 15 months, and is hoping to land a permanent position with the Society.

As part of her apprenticeship Mia is studying five modules including mobile and operating systems, business standards, logic and coding.

She said: “The apprenticeship scheme is really enjoyable. It’s taught me the various aspects of IT and how to communicate more effectively. I’ve also enjoyed working alongside my colleagues and learning all these new skills.

“My goal is to continue working in IT, hopefully at the Heart of England Co-operative Society, and continuing to expand my IT knowledge.”