IT’S National Apprenticeship Week from 14-18 March and social enterprise and procurement consortium Fusion21 has funded 144 apprenticeships since 2014 – delivering £268,665 in social value, whilst supporting young people to learn a life-long trade.
The organisation – which has its head office based in Merseyside – has been helping to tackle the skills shortage in the construction industry, by funding a variety of apprenticeships in professions including joinery; bricklaying; plastering; painting and electrics.
These initiatives provide young people with the chance to build a career by learning new skills and qualifications – which often lead to securing sustainable employment opportunities.
Eighteen-year old George Buckley from Halewood in Liverpool has excelled in a bricklaying apprenticeship, thanks to support and funding received from Fusion21.
After nearly two years of hands-on work experience and studying at The City of Liverpool College, George is nearing the end of the scheme and is on track to receive a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 2.
George’s apprenticeship has enabled him to mix the technical skills he has learnt in the classroom, with on-the-job experience gained from working for home-builder and urban regeneration partner, Countryside.
George said: “I didn’t really enjoy school – I wanted to be out in the fresh air, earning money and learning skills I could turn into a career. That’s why an apprenticeship was the best option for me. My uncle has had a fantastic career as a bricklayer, and he inspired me to follow the same path.
“I love what I’m doing and the independence it has given me – throughout my apprenticeship I’ve spent at least four days a week gaining practical experience on different construction sites throughout the North West – in addition to doing my college coursework.
“I’ve worked really hard to develop my skills – and achieved third place in the SkillBuild Regional Heat Competition 2015, in the bricklaying category. SkillBuild is the largest multi-trade competition in the country, so it was a great indication of the progress I was making.”
George’s apprenticeship has seen him undertake his CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) training needed to start work on a construction site, and has even taken him overseas – with a trip to Finland in his first year.
He said: “During the trip we visited several construction sites, to see how Finnish construction methods compared to ours – it was a really valuable experience, and fascinating to learn about how the country approaches building during the winter months, when temperatures regularly drop below freezing.”
With his career prospects going from strength to strength, the teenager is already thinking about his next steps, and plans to add to his qualifications by completing an NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Brickwork.
“This apprenticeship has been a fantastic stepping stone for me,” adds George – “each day is a fresh challenge – and I can confidently work on my own without supervision.
“I definitely want a career in a bricklaying role, and I’m really grateful to Fusion21 and its partners for the support I’ve been given. I’d recommend an apprenticeship, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Ian McDonough, Community Regeneration Manager at Fusion21, said: “George has really applied himself during his apprenticeship – and we’re really proud of what he has achieved.
“Apprenticeships can change lives – and it’s really important that these opportunities exist to develop new talent in the construction sector and other industries.”
To find out more about the National Apprenticeship Service visit www.apprenticeships.gov.uk