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Developers offer young apprentices a chance to learn

Developers offer young apprentices a chance to learn

Rather than go to university and build up debts teetering on the terrifying, school-leavers collecting A-level results next week can earn while they learn on their way to carving out a rewarding career with a great future in the housebuilding industry.

Harry Race (pictured above) was just 16 when he joined award-winning upmarket developer Bewley Homes as an apprentice site manager at the end of August last year. After collecting the necessary GCSEs including maths and English to make him eligible to become a trainee, he turned up on site at the company’s Oakham Park development in Crowthorne, Berkshire and has never looked back.He cheerfully admits “no longer having to go to school and learning while earning” influenced his decision about the future direction of his life.

Now 17, he’s almost halfway to completing his 24-month apprenticeship.He works on site four days a week and  goes to college one day a week where he’s working towards a Level 3 qualification focused on Construction in the Built Environment.He says: “Before I joined Bewley I hadn’t really any concept of what was involved in building a house. I’m only a year in but I have a full grasp of the different processes involved.

“My role includes shadowing the site manager, Bill, in all elements of construction and finish including bricklaying, electrics, carpentry, plumbing, plastering and roofing.“I am involved in the inspection of completed properties - known as snagging - to ensure they meet the high standard of quality expected. “I do paperwork and deal with delivery invoices which enables me to engage with external stakeholders. “No one day is the same which makes it exciting. I feel I am learning all the time.”

Under-19-year-olds like Harry are paid £5.50 an hour as are all trainees in their first year. After that they progress to the national minimum wage.From September 1, grants paid by the Construction Industry Training Board to qualifying employers for taking on an apprentice are being increased by 30 per cent.The amount paid by the CIOB for each trainee across the period of a new three-year apprenticeship will be boosted to £5,200 from next month. On top of that, housebuilders are eligible for an additional hand-out of £1,500 from the Department for the Economy for each raw beginner who in the course of their training achieves a qualification at NVQ Level 2 or 3. 

The building industry has an acute shortage of brickie’s, joiners and roofers and an ageing workforce. It could get worse. The present situation in the UK is heavily reliant on foreign workers. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, homegrown talent needs to be boosted big time to have any prospect of meeting the government target of 300,000 new homes a year to meet demand.

School-leavers attracted by an apprenticeship as an alternative to university will find a good choice of schemes offered by local companies tailormade to help them match their career ambitions for the future.Bewley Homes is currently looking for two apprentices as part of its ongoing commitment to help youngsters get on the first rung of the career ladder.Managing director Andrew Brooks says: “What we are looking for is candidates willing to learn, be punctual and reliable and have the ability to communicate well.”

As for formal qualifications, they need either A-C grades (or 5 to 9) in maths and English or the equivalent Level 2 key skills and functional skills. They also need to provide their own transport to and from the site or college.Much of what Harry earns goes in a pot to fund driving lessons and the costs of running a car.

Another company with a broadbrush apprenticeship scheme is Linden Homes, part of the Galliford Try construction group, a FTSE 250 business. The firm’s Management Trainee Programme covers all aspects of housebuilding, not just the normal jobs you’d expect. Those who make it onto the Linden scheme do the rounds of the various departments: land buying, planning, sales and marketing, technical, quantity surveying and customer service.  They also have a chance to work on site at a current Linden development such as Woodhaven in Chalfont St Peter.

“Although recruits focus on one area of the business, they gain a valuable insight into how the business works as a whole,” says Paul Smith, Linden’s head of human resources. The scheme is open to applicants with A-levels, BTEC or other vocational qualifications as well as those with five GCSEs at 4-9 grade including maths and English. The rewards include a competitive salary, annual bonus, private healthcare and discounted gym membership. 

For more details, look at the website at www.gallifordtry.co.uk/careers/early-careers.

Article reproduced courtesy of Bucks Free Press (www.bucksfreepress.co.uk)


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