Bradford's biggest social housing landlord has received praise for an “inspirational” schools event to mark National Apprenticeship Week, which concludes tomorrow.
Incommunities, which manages 22,500 rented and leasehold homes across the Bradford district, held its Interbuild Skills competition yesterday, a project that sees schools come together to design, market and build a construction idea of their choice.
Teams from Beckfoot School and Tong High School attended the organisation’s ‘Training Terrace’ in Dudley Hill, building different types of wooden furniture under the watchful guidance of current Incommunities apprentices and expert tradesman.
Prior to the event, each school team member was assigned a role relevant to the construction industry, such as an architect or project manager, to produce plans that would allow their product to be built on the day.
Kaitlan Richmond, 14, said the Tong High School team got their idea for a flat pack chair from work covered in Design and Technology lessons.
“It’s been a great experience, and you’re really thrown into some hand-on work,” she said. “I’ve learnt some new skills and our team has really worked together well.”
Yusuf Asul, 16, from Beckfoot School, whose team built a bench made from recycled pallets, said the day had been a real “eye-opener”, and a useful insight into how apprenticeships work.
“It’s been an inspirational day,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed doing something practical, being able to build and see something develop in front of you. I think apprenticeships are becoming a much more viable option for young people now, and a real alternative to the traditional academic route.”
The schools presented their efforts before a panel of judges, who were not only looking at the finished product, but how the teams had interacted and worked with each other.
Susan Laycock, HR Director at Incommunities and a judge on the day, said: “The level of enthusiasm has been really impressive, and all the young people have really engaged with the competition. Working with local schools is important to our apprenticeship programme, as we strive for a diverse workforce that is representative of the Bradford district, and being able to offer and attract people into apprenticeships is crucial for the success of the area.”
Incommunities was presented with the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Diversity Award for encouraging women and people from ethnic minority backgrounds onto its apprenticeship scheme last year, and WISE Director, Helen Wollaston, was also present yesterday as part of the judging panel.
“It’s been fantastic to see the young girls getting stuck in and enjoying it,” she said. “There are lots of opportunities for women in construction now and it’s crucial to get that message out there. Apprenticeships are the best way to learn employability skills, and they’re definitely becoming more popular.”
Third judge, Lynne Allison, from the Construction Industry Training Board, said: “It’s been a really good day, and anything that raises awareness of the variety of careers available in the construction industry can only be a good thing. Seeing people so enthused about this type of work will hopefully keep the pipeline of talent flowing into the industry.”
National Apprenticeship Week is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they can have on individuals, businesses and the economy.
Anthony Knowles, from the National Apprenticeship Service in Yorkshire, also attended yesterday’s competition, and said: “Young people don’t always get to find out about apprenticeship opportunities, so events like this are vital. This competition has a real-life business perspective, combining managing the craft with the overall project, which are the kinds of skills employers are looking for.”
More than 125 events were scheduled to take place across Yorkshire and the Humber this week, making this year the biggest and most successful National Apprenticeship Week for the region.
“The profile of apprenticeships is growing, but there is still work to do,” said Mr Knowles. “The theme for this year is ‘great’ apprenticeships, so we want to talk about great apprenticeship opportunities from the great businesses that offer them, and the great prospects that can lead to for everyone.
“Apprenticeships really deliver for young people, allowing them to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future. That is why we are committed to making them the new norm for ambitious young people.”