Last orders for Matthew’s bar work as he secures new employment serving his construction skills.
It is often said that the UK’s chronic skills shortage is hampering productivity and holding back the economic recovery, but for some young people, it’s getting the chance to demonstrate their skills which is the problem. That scenario applied to Matthew Thomas, who left school and completed an apprenticeship with Carillion and gained a Level 2 National Vocational Qualification Diploma in Joinery.
“It was frustrating as it was a great apprenticeship but they didn’t have the work to take me on so I was qualified with no job or opportunity for further experience”, says the 19 year old.
“I’m a grafter, and I should have been the other side of the bar but I needed to earn money so stuck at it, hoping something else would come up.”
When the pub work dried up Matthew was visiting the job centre regularly to try and gain new employment. An opportunity came in the form of the “Get into Construction” course managed by Fusion21 and The Prince’s Trust, a four week work experience programme for young people aged 18-25.
The programme covers Carpentry, Joinery, Plastering, Brickwork and Painting and decorating.
“Being honest, I had a lot of relevant experience already but thought it would be a good route to refresh my skills and impress a potential employer.”
All students face a week in the classroom at Fusion21’s Huyton base learning key skills such as CV writing, communication skills, confidence building and Interview techniques before spending time on a construction site.
“That first week brought me back up and made me feel confident before going back on a site”, adds Mathew.
He then spent twelve days with a team from Frank Rogers Building Contractors working as a labourer, refurbishing properties for Chorley Community Housing Ltd.
“I was doing cladding, timber batons and other stuff. It was great to be away form the pub and back to what I wanted to do and what I was skilled in. I got on well with the team and enjoyed it. I was back in the game.”
It wasn’t long before Matthew’s work impressed those around him but the agreed time window for being on site was coming to an end.
“I just didn’t want to go back to the pub or sign on.”
Then the offer came…. Frank Rogers offered him paid work after he graduated from his course.
“It’s only temporary but its proper work and if I impress, there is a chance of being taken on permanently. It’s in my own hands and I just feel I’ve got a brighter future now.
“I can’t thank Fusion21, The Princes Trust, and Frank Rogers enough for this course. It enabled me to show the skills I’ve got and use my apprenticeship to do what I want to do.”
Andrea Lang, Community Regeneration Training Co-ordinator for Fusion21, said:
”This is about giving young people the opportunities they need to impress employers, and in Matthew’s case, it can act as a pathway to employment. We’re very pleased for him.”
Partnerships are critical to the working of the course. At a dedicated graduation ceremony all of the students are asked to read out a personal testimony of their experience and receive formal recognition via a certificate in front of all the contractors involved.
“Matthew has impressed the team and is willing. That is half of the battle for young people to demonstrate. I wanted to give him a chance. We, as a business, want to invest in the future skills for our industry and give something back, we’re very happy to have him on board.”
Russell Brady, The Prince’s Trust Programme Executive for Get into Construction said:”
All of the students completing now have their CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) cards, their personal protective equipment and an excellent attitude.
Credit to the contractors for taking part in the programme and it’s great for us to see young lives changing for the better which is what our charity and our partnership with Fusion21 is all about. “
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