Worcestershire apprentices off to a flying start

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Worcestershire apprentices off to a flying start

Four lucky apprentices and their employers have welcomed support this lockdown through the Worcestershire Construction Apprentice Academy (WCAA).

Set up as an independent charity by Malvern-based contractor Speller Metcalfe in 2013, the academy has supported over 40 apprentices from the Heart of Worcestershire College for the better part of a decade.

Each Worcestershire-based ‘micro’ employer (a business with between 1-9 employees) has been provided with a £500 grant to help towards the cost of employing an apprentice.

Subsequently, each apprentice has also been provided with a tool kit specific to their trade by charity-partner Travis Perkins, who have been working with the WCAA since its inception.

“Financial grants like these mean small businesses like ours have a stronger chance of success in training an apprentice, said Leon Scarlett-Coppage, director of Coppage Brickwork Ltd. “The apprentice academy programme has also meant that my apprentice Louis can get onto site straight away, without the worry of having to pay for new tools which can be a big cost to a young trainee.”

With the global pandemic affecting a significant number of businesses, the charity’s support has been more pertinent than ever.

“We know that employing an apprentice requires significant investment, both in terms of time and cost, which may have felt like leap of faith for some businesses during the pandemic,“ said James Speller, pre-construction director at Speller Metcalfe.

“It has been fantastic to see that the momentum of investing in the upskilling of construction trainees has continued and we hope the academy’s support will go some way to creating a sustainable apprenticeship for both our students and their employers.”

This year’s cohort includes both carpenters and bricklayers from Worcestershire-based businesses DWS Mechanical Services Ltd, Coppage Brickwork Limited, Owen Developments and SM Carpentry, who successfully applied for grant-based funding after they each took on an apprentice from the Heart of Worcestershire College.

“We are absolutely delighted to once again be working with Speller Metcalfe and the Heart of Worcestershire College to support building trade apprentices,” said Ian Sharman-Jones, regional director, Midlands at Travis Perkins.

“We know a key barrier for students is the cost of getting their kit together and hope that by providing these tool kits the academy apprentices will have a better chance of developing their skills from the outset.”

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