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Posted on February 3, 2020

National Apprentice Week 2020 – Q&A with James Macaree

We recently finished work on a project based in Padiham, Lancashire, consisting of 22 units, of which one was a bungalow. This was delivered using a mix of skilled, qualified labourers and apprentices in partnership with several other local organisations.

Apprentice, Dylan Dand, dreams of being a brick layer and was given the chance to put his emerging skills to the test on a whole new level during this build, playing a key part in constructing an entire bungalow, along with fellow apprentice, Daniel Evans.

James Macaree, Assistant Director at Ring Stones, talks about why making the decision to involve Dylan and Daniel in such a substantial and refreshing way is helping to challenge some out-dated stigmas in the industry of what roles apprentices should occupy and supports the National Apprentice Week 2020 message of ‘Making Impact, Not Tea’.

1 – Where did the idea of using apprentices on this project come from?

The idea came from a similar project we started on Priory Chase a while ago where we created an apprentice workshop; a place for apprentices to develop and showcase their skills. This gave them an area to practice without the worry of getting it wrong. Site manager, Tom Strickland, then decided to take that to the next step and gave the apprentices the chance to work on the real thing, with the Bungalow on the Station Road site. With it being a single story building, it made sense to let them have a go on this.

2 – What support and supervision was given?

At each stage of the work, the apprentices were shown how to carry out their task and then given the chance to undertake on their own. During the days and weeks that followed, they would often be checked on and supported but undertook a lot of the labour themselves.

3 – How did this help their progress?

After they had finished the bungalow, the apprentices then went on to join already established schemes, as they had already completed the relevant tasks required – albeit it briefly. This took away the anxiety of joining trades on site as they already had some strong experience.

4 – Were there any obstacles?

No not really. All of the site team were aware of what we were trying to do and fully supported this opportunity for the apprentices. Building Control and Warranty Providers (LABC) were also fully supportive of the team undertaking these tasks which was great to see.

5 – What have you learnt from this project, as an employer?

We have learnt that by supporting and giving real opportunities to the apprentices to learn and apply their skills, we can see that the results can be something really special. The rewards given back to us are not only the creation of an excellent product but also the development of these young people by instilling confidence and trust in them.

Dylan said: “‘The apprenticeship has increased my confidence and it has made me grow up. It’s also increased my self-awareness and responsibilities. It has enabled myself and my colleague apprentice, Daniel Evans, to put our skills into practice.”

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