Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Swansea council apprentices get a head start

SIX Swansea teenagers are getting their working lives off to a flying start after securing the chance to train to maintain and improve buildings in Swansea for the whole community.

Swansea Council's Corporate Building Services has taken on six new apprentices who will be gaining vital skills by working on homes, schools, offices and facilities across the city.

The 16-year-olds beat off competition from around 80 candidates to secure a place on the award-winning apprenticeship programme in trades such as plumbing, electrics, bricklaying and carpentry.

Most of the applicants came from the Corporate Building Services pre-16 training initiatives, the Construction Connection Programme and the Work Related Education Programme. These schemes enable youngsters to explore opportunities in construction and work out which trade is for them.

As well as providing a way into work for city youngsters, the apprenticeship scheme also aims to ensure Swansea Council has employees with skills it needs to maintain and develop Council buildings and properties in the years to come.

Chris Cutforth, Section Leader, said: "We are delighted to welcome our new apprentices. Again the calibre of this year's successful applicants has improved, which is credit to Corporate Building Services pre-16 training initiatives, and the hard work these students are prepared to put in.

"Attracting youngsters with real potential and giving them high quality training through Employment Training means we can better meet the maintenance and development needs of the Council and the residents it serves."

Martin Nicholls, Head of Corporate Building Services, said: "We reintroduced trade apprenticeships in 2003 because we recognised the need to replace skilled tradesmen who were part of an increasingly ageing workforce. We have taken on 74 apprentices since the scheme began with over 90 per cent going on to secure permanent employment within our organisation.

"Our apprenticeships are one of the reasons the Council was not only awarded Best Employee and Equality Initiative in last week's national Association for Public Service Excellence awards but was also named Best Council in Britain for service delivery.

"For the hard work of all of the team to be recognised is extremely rewarding."

Cllr Stuart Rice, Swansea Council Cabinet Member for Finance, said: "I am delighted that the local authority in conjunction with Employment Training is able to continue to offer these high quality apprenticeships."

New apprentice electrician Josh Battye, aged 16, is a former pupil of Pentrehafod School.

He said: "I was with electricians at Swansea Council's Corporate Building Services team when I went on work experience as a 15-year-old. I really enjoyed it and I'm pleased that I've got an apprenticeship which means that I'll be learning skills for life.

"Every week I do a day at a college in Bridgend and work on theory and practical issues."

Apprentice plumber Shaun Richards, aged 16, is a former pupil of Cefn Hengoed Comprehensive School. He said: "I didn't want to sit in an office; I wanted to get out, work with my hands and meet people.

"Plumbing's a great opportunity and I'm really looking forward to my apprenticeship.

"It's a really practical training experience and involves one day a week of theory and practical at Neath College."

Working alongside the apprentices Glenn Sullivan, 18, is a former pupil of Bishop Vaughan Comprehensive School, who has now completed a two-year Construction Connections programme with Employment Training and Corporate Building Services. He is now starting a job as a plumber with Swansea Council.

He said: "The Connections programme was really good as it gave me a grounding in a lot of construction skills and focused my mind on becoming a plumber.

"I love plumbing because it's an enjoyable career to follow and it just seems to be a good fit for me. I've worked in all sorts of interesting places such as the Grand Theatre, the Mansion House and schools all over Swansea and I'm looking forward to starting the job."


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