Six young people from the west end of Newcastle have proved that persistence and dedication pays dividends by securing construction apprenticeships at The Rise in Scotswood.
The new starters will now have the chance to build a career whilst working on the largest housing lead regeneration programme in the North East of England.
The New Tyne West Development Company (NTWDC) - a private/public partnership comprising Newcastle City Council, Barratt Homes and Keepmoat - will deliver up to 1,800 new affordable homes over the next 15-18 years and the new trainees join the eight young people who began apprenticeships created by the project in 2013.
Two of the young apprentices, John Hewitt and Ricky Jex, were unsuccessful in securing apprenticeships last year, but were not perturbed and took advantage of opportunities provided by Newcastle Futures (a partnership between Newcastle City Council and Jobcentre Plus) working with Scotswood Area Strategy, CITB (The Sector Skills Council for Construction), N-Gaged and Newcastle College.
These included a construction pathway study programme, delivered by Trinity School, which helped young people between 16 and 18 develop basic skills alongside work placements and a two week summer school at Newcastle College for those 19 plus, which focussed on aspects of both bricklaying and joinery as well as preparing applicants for work on site.
Other activities held in the community and in conjunction with Scotswood Area Strategy, included careers in construction information sessions and a ‘try your hand’ open day which gave young people the chance to have a go at bricklaying and joinery with a view to becoming involved in the apprenticeship initiative.
John Hewitt, 21, is now undertaking a bricklaying apprenticeship with Keepmoat and is happy to have been selected at the second attempt. He said: “I have always wanted to learn a trade and although I wasn’t successful last year, I was keen to do all I could to make it happen this time. I was working part time, but when I heard that there were going to be more apprenticeships available I phoned up and explained that I had experience of the process from last year. I was delighted when I was offered the interview this time round and also much better prepared.
“My time is now split between learning new skills on site and at college and I’m really enjoying it. I’m a hands on type of person and bricklaying is great because you get to see what you are working on take shape and develop into a finished job. I find that really rewarding.”
Liam Burns, 18, who has started his bricklaying apprenticeship with Barratt Homes, signed up for an apprenticeship instead of applying for a place at University. He said: “I was studying for my A levels and thinking about becoming a sports coach. However, the opportunities in that area are few and I didn’t want to be saddled with thousands of pounds worth of student debt.
“I have relatives who work in construction and had an understanding of what the job entailed so I thought it would offer me a good opportunity to establish a successful career. I hope to go on from here, complete my third year and then potentially move on to site management training with a view to one day setting up my own small construction firm.”
Development Director with NTWDC, Duncan Bowman Said: “It is fantastic to see a further six young people start construction apprenticeships with our build partners Barratt Homes and Keepmoat.
“It is also inspiring to hear of the effort that these young people went to, to secure these training positions and of how they grasped the opportunities provided by Newcastle Futures. This determination and drive can only go to serve them well as they develop their skills and look to forge careers in construction.”
Cabinet Member for Communities and local Ward Councillor, Hazel Stephenson added: “The commitment shown by the young people from our local community to continue their learning and secure employment is admirable and to have all six apprentices recruited locally is fantastic.”
Prices for the two, three and four bedroomed homes – just two and a half miles from the centre of Newcastle - range from £94,950 to £182,950. The six show homes, just off Whitehouse Road are open daily between 10am and 5pm.