A social housing maintenance company has boosted its number of apprentices to more than 30 after taking on 11 Gateshead College students to help with two ongoing contracts.
Mears Group’s North East operation is one of many employers to work with the college in assisting the fast-tracking of students into employment, with the latest group set to work across a range of disciplines.
Michael Rodgers and Connor Singh, both 17, have embarked on maintenance operations apprenticeships while 21-year-old Adam Henderson has chosen a plumbing apprenticeship. They have been joined by apprentice plasterer, 19-year-old Aaron Dalton and 16-year-old Thomas Humby, an apprentice painter and decorator.
All five are helping Mears to service a three-year, multi-million pound property maintenance contract with Gateshead Council, involving more than 50,000 repairs per year on homes managed by The Gateshead Housing Company.
Six other students – Declan Laidler, 17, Christian Ridge, 16, Aidan Elstob, 17, Jack McRobbie, 18, Jack Howorth, 19, and John Ellison, 19 – will be working with Mears on a separate maintenance contract on behalf of Home Group.
Four of those within the group are on maintenance operations apprenticeships, working towards the new Level 2 Multi Skills Construction qualification, which gives students a broad understanding of the construction industry and the wide range of skills it involves. It also gives them the option of specialising in a particular trade later on in their careers.
North East regional director at Mears, John Norton, said: “Apprenticeships are vital for us to secure a viable future for this business. With older skilled workers retiring and the need for a multi-skilled approach, it’s really important to bring in a regular influx of talent who can take the company forward and meet our client needs.
“Due to our strong relationship with Gateshead College, which stretches back several years, we have been able to take on many local students who are already adding genuine value to our business.”
Mick Brophy, managing director of business innovation and development at Gateshead College, said: “Some employers may be wary of taking on young apprentices of 16 or 17 because they might feel it would take too much time to train them up to the required standard.
“However, Mears is a great example of how young, raw talent can hit the ground running, add genuine value to an organisation and help to protect its future.
“Apprenticeships are a great way for a business to retain vital skills and secure the future development of the workforce. They also give students the opportunity to build a career by learning useful skills while earning a wage.”
Last year the college teamed up with Nexus to create 30 new rail apprentice posts as part of the transport operator’s new advanced engineering apprenticeship programme.