Hands-on experience for construction apprentices
CONSTRUCTION apprentices are getting valuable hands-on experience thanks to a link up between a training company and city schools.
Apprentices studying with Plymouth's Construction Training South West have been working on real projects in the community.
The apprentices are awaiting placements with building firms and their trainers hit on the idea of helping out organisations that need work being done gratis.
Already youngsters have built and rendered new planters at the new "solar dome" greenhouse area at Tor Bridge High, in Estover.
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The apprentices and their trainers give their time for free.
And now a team of painting and decorating students, under the direction of professional decorator Aaron Dart, is giving the hall at Ernesettle's Mill Ford School an overhaul.
Construction Training South West tutor/assessor David Mallet is also a governor at the school and said: "We are using this community work as work experience. It's worthwhile for the kids, it gives them an incentive. Everybody wins.
"We decided it would put their skills to the test," he added. "But this time not on a multi-spec new build, but at a 35-year-old school where the hall is in need of a facelift and funding is low."
Construction Training South West is based at Lister Close, Plympton, and, although it only started operating last September, has already seen students achieving qualifications including NVQ Level One diplomas in plastering and bricklaying.
The firm was started by managing director Barry Davey and his wife Mandy, the admin director, who work alongside another manager Katrina Vasey.
It teaches students from schools across Plymouth skills associated with bricklaying, plastering, painting and decorating and wall and floor tiling.
Its instructors include Richard Hannon, Andy Board, Gareth Edwards and Harrison Fry.
Mr Mallet, who teaches plastering and tiling, has worked in the construction industry for 60 years and taught at establishments including City College Plymouth.
"We've gone from strength to strength," he said. "We have expanded into an eighth unit at Lister Close, and doubled the number of students to 40 and increased the tutoring staff for plastering, bricklaying and now decorating."
And Mr Mallett, a former soldier with the Royal Engineers, said the business is now also training ex-service personnel too.
"They are being made redundant by the Royal Navy and Army, there's lots of them," he said. "We've had officers, chief petty officers, sergeants, Royal Marines too, people from Culdrose, Lympstone and HMS Drake – even a major from the Royal Engineers.
"We have had a lot of success so far with re-training them. They are mature, disciplined and a joy to work with. You only have to show them something once and they get it.
"And we have vacancies for them on our next course.
"We also carry out daily NVQ courses for the experienced worker, to enable them to meet the requirements of major building contractors."