National Apprenticeship Week (14-18 March) is celebrating the many products and services which are ‘Made by Apprentices’ and how apprentices can ‘Rise to the Top’.
In Worcestershire, there are many companies who offer excellent apprenticeship programmes, which make a range of goods and services, as well as companies who have seen their apprentices rise through their organisation.
Apprentices are at the heart of Worcester-based Matthews Construction’s success as the company’s turnover is expected to exceed £6.0m this year. The family-run construction company has employed 15 apprentices since forming in 2004 including their three directors having undertaken apprenticeships.
Contracts Director, Chris Matthews, studied a sports science GNVQ before starting his apprenticeship in the construction industry. Younger brother and Construction Director, Rob Matthews, took an Advanced GNVQ in business studies before working alongside his brother in construction, starting his bricklaying apprenticeship in 2002. The brothers persuaded their father, Alan, who originally completed a 5 year engineering apprenticeship in 1971, to join the company as an apprentice bricklayer.
The company currently has 5 active apprentices all at Level 2. This includes two carpenter apprentices, one of which already helps to co-ordinate and manage projects from a site perspective, a bricklayer who recently passed his Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) course with 100%, as well as a plumber and joiner. These opportunities are offered with the support of apprenticeship providers, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), and the business is looking to employ an additional apprentice bookkeeper in the next few months.
This week, Worcestershire’s apprentices, alongside their employers and training providers, are also being encouraged to celebrate the contributions that apprentices make to their workplace as well as the excellent products and services provided locally. Apprentices, alongside their employers, can Tweet a picture or video of themselves with items they have made or services they have provided with the hashtag #MadeByApprentices or #NAW2016 to join the national conversations. #WorcsApprentice should also be added for messages of support for apprenticeships within the County.
Rob Matthews, Construction Director of Matthews Construction, said: “One of the most rewarding things about my job is being involved with our apprentices and helping them to develop into skilled crafts people, which brings benefits to them personally and to our company.
“We take a keen interest in helping apprentices not only from a work perspective but with guidance and support from a personal aspect.”
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, added: “It is great to see businesses like Matthews Construction provide our future workforce with invaluable work-based skills and experience whilst also successfully growing their company.
Cllr Dr Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, said: "Apprentices can add so much to the workplace, and make a huge contribution to driving our County's economy. It is great to hear success stories like that of Matthews Construction, and we hope that National Apprenticeship week can inspire further improvement to Worcestershire's already flourishing apprenticeship infrastructure."
“National Apprenticeship Week is a perfect time to consider your workforce requirements and I would strongly encourage any businesses to visit the Worcestershire Apprenticeships website, which has a wealth of information available, as well as opportunities for those looking for a suitable placement. Also, do take the opportunity to get involved this week via social media to celebrate the contributions that apprentices make to your workplace and the excellent products and services that they work to produce.”
National Apprenticeship Week has drawn support from many local organisations including Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, Worcestershire County Council and Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce.
All details about Worcestershire Apprenticeships and local activities during Apprenticeship Week are available at http://www.worcsapprenticeships.org.uk/.