WORK on a new base for a major Northumberland housing company is taking shape, with 250 staff due to move in later this year.
Bernicia’s new purpose-built group headquarters will be located at the Ashwood Business Park in Ashington, marking the latest development in a three-year, £44million investment by the company which has improved its existing stock and built 230 new homes in South East Northumberland.
The company is developing plans for a five-year rolling programme of work, with an estimated value of £64million, including building another 228 new homes.
The future investments mean good news for job opportunities and business contracts in the local area.
Andrea Malcolm, Operations Director, said staff are looking forward to the move, which will see the company becoming one of Northumberland’s largest employers.
“The new group headquarters will bring us much closer to our customers and we plan to become even more involved with local community projects,” she said.
“Our staff are our greatest asset and we want to provide excellent employment and career opportunities for local people.
“Our Pre-Apprenticeship Scheme has already developed 11 trainees who have all progressed to a full-time apprenticeship, and for the first time this year we have recruited Business Administration and Customer Service apprentices, alongside our regular intake of trade apprentices.”
The company’s commitment to staff has been recognised by an Investors in People Gold Award – the highest possible level.
The 250 HQ-based staff are drawn from a wide range of professions, including housing management, IT, HR, finance, architects, property surveyors, administration, electricians and plumbers.
Andrea added: “We assess contract bids on a cost and quality basis and the use of local contractors, suppliers and labour features high in the quality assessment. We take our workforce and community responsibilities seriously and regularly assess how we and our contractors are performing.
“A recent contractor review showed that of the 156 people employed on- site, 10 were apprentices and 110 from the local labour force.”
Andrea is a shining example of someone who has risen through the ranks to become a director at Bernicia.
She started as a receptionist with the company over 20 years ago, moving on to the rent collection team before taking on various management roles.
Andrea said: “I’ve always been encouraged by my colleagues to learn new skills and been given opportunities to work in different parts of the business. It’s really inspiring to see how many of our staff have progressed because they’ve been supported to achieve their potential.”