HOUSING organisation Incommunities is at the forefront of debunking stereotypes surrounding apprenticeships by employing mature trainees to learn new skills.

The innovative approach was enough to earn a visit today from the Minister of State for Skills and Equalities, Nick Boles, as part of Apprenticeship Week.

Incommunities is the group which manages Bradford Council's social housing and it has pioneered the use of apprenticeships to help the emerging generation in Bradford find good quality, long term jobs.

But it has also supported older people, not normally associated with apprenticeships, in finding places on its training schemes, including Karline Symes, 26, who met Mr Boles at a Incommunities renovation project on the Holme Wood estate to give a demonstration of some of the skills she has been learning since being accepted for a joinery apprenticeship in September.

She gave the minister a crash-course in hanging cupboard doors successfully and told the Telegraph & Argus that she originally planned to become a professional dancer, before going to college to improve her employment prospects.

"I had been unemployed for a while, I have two children and I didn't know what to do so I enrolled into college," she said.

"Tutors mentioned the Incommunities apprenticeships, so I applied. My dad was a joiner so it was something natural for me to do.

"I love it, it is life changing for me and my family and my mum is so proud of me," she said.

Her apprenticeship will last for three years but should leave her with a set of skills in demand from the construction industry.

Mr Boles said that apprenticeships had been given a fresh lease of life under the current Government, with places on schemes doubling to 2.1 million since 2010.

"We have not just had lots of them created, they have become something people respect again," he said.

"Lots of young people are making the choice. Some decide to go to university but some decide they want to learn and do at the same time, so they come and do an apprenticeship.

"The need for more young people to do apprenticeships in construction is overwhelming. We want as much as possible young British people to available for that work rather than having to such people in from elsewhere.

"It is also for people in mid-career," he said.

Delroy Beverley, Incommunities' director of Propertysolutions and regional chairman of the Yorkshire and Humberside Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network, added: "Visits like this are fantastic because they lift the spirits. It re-enforces the importance of investing in future generations.

"We have broken many boundaries and don't just take 16-year-olds, one of our former apprentices is a grandmother. The construction industry offers a life-long career."