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From plumbing to paperwork: job swap joy for national apprenticeship week

Lancashire apprentice Ben Finch and construction director Keith Collard found out 'how the other half lives' when they swapped jobs for a day for National Apprenticeship Week.

Keith, 52, from Chorley, got the chance to get his hands dirty drilling out joists and fitting pipes as a plumber, while Ben, 17, from Wigan, got suited and booted for a day at the office.

Undertaking such different roles for the day was declared by both Keith and Ben as 'an eye opener'!

“Being ready to go, full tilt, on site very early in the morning was a bit of a shock to the system,” laughed Keith, “and it took me back to my own site-based days. But it was great to be part of the team, working alongside Ben and some of our subbies.”

Although he has worked his way up to construction director from the grass roots of building and various management positions at Redrow Homes (Lancashire) over the last 32 years, Keith has never been an apprentice. He got the chance to learn what life is like for them when he spent the day doing second fix plumbing in one of the new Redrow homes at Lucas Green, Whittle-Le-Woods, working alongside Ben and other subbies from the North West contractor Prestige Plumbing.

“Spending time with Ben and seeing his approach to work has really made me appreciate the value of our apprentices,” said Keith, “how much they bring to the business and how much they can promote us to family and friends. Hearing tales from Ben about apprentices he's met who were unsupported in their work or were only doing it because they didn't know what else to do, made me realise how good our apprenticeship programme is.

“We have some very committed, hardworking and articulate people like Ben who have a great future in the business. We need to capture more of the Bens in this world and that's what this year's recruitment drive is all about.”

And Ben was equally impressed. “I was surprised at how busy Keith was and is,” he said. “A lot of people just assume it's a straight forward 9-5 job in the office, but his day can be long in different ways. He is out of the office at meetings, seeing people on site, answering the phones, doing the paperwork and keeping a check on everything.”

Although he is currently working at Lucas Green, Ben has worked at a number of developments including Dukes Manor in Walkden, Harbour Village in Fleetwood and The Hedgerows in Clayton-Le-Woods. He is in his second year as an apprentice, employed by Redrow but attached to Prestige during his apprenticeship.

“I always wanted to come out of school and start earning straight away,” said Ben. “But I didn't want to just get any job, I wanted to learn a trade and so it's great. The apprenticeship allows me to earn while learning on the job, with support.

“When you are working on site you don't always know what goes on behind the scenes in the office so it was really interesting to learn at least a part of what Keith does and it made me realise that I'd like to take that route in the future. It's a natural progression.

“Watching and working with Keith gave me a much better perspective of how everything works and comes together, it gave me a clearer understanding of what other people's stresses are and the things that impact on them. It's a partnership.”

Ben continued: “I have got two more years as an apprentice after this one and it is important to learn my trade, but I would certainly like to progress in the future and not stand still.

“Working with Keith has made me realise that – and it was good fun to swap jobs for the day. It made a nice change.”

Redrow has pledged to take on a record 100 trade apprentices this year as it continues to grow its business, including 10 across the Lancashire division. Redrow launched its annual recruitment drive to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week (March 14-18).

Representatives from the national housebuilder have also been visiting schools and colleges up and down the country to talk to young people about the value of trade apprenticeships as a route into successful careers in construction.
For more on becoming an apprentice with Redrow visit www.redrowcareers.co.uk/apprentices.

Established more than 40 years, Redrow Homes is one of the UK’s leading house builders, with a £1billion turnover and building more than 4,000 homes in 2014/15 financial year.

Operating across England and Wales, there is a strong emphasis on providing high quality homes in prime locations and its housing ranges feature designs to suit all lifestyles:

• The Heritage Collection combines traditional looking, ‘Arts & Crafts’ influenced exteriors with bright, modern, high specification interiors.

• The classically styled Regent Collection features Georgian inspired street scenes and architecture.

• Redrow has also launched a new brand of contemporary homes in Abode, which boast open plan layouts with streamlined kitchen, dining and lounge areas, high specification wet rooms and outdoor living space.

Redrow also creates exclusive bespoke developments in both rural and urban locations. The company has won numerous awards over the years, including, most recently, the Gold Award for Best Large Housebuilder at the What House? Awards 2015 and 2014, Best House Design at the Sunday Times British Home Awards 2015 and the 2014 Building Awards Housebuilder of the Year. Its ‘My Redrow’ online tool won the overall Customer Engagement category at the 2013 Peer Awards for Excellence. Web: www.redrow.co.uk.