I recently had a meeting with Jenny, Rob, and Sue at Matthews Construction. Last year they won Worcestershire’s Small Employer of the Year. Through this blog you will definitely be able to see why this was the case, and the ambition that this family run company has for the future development of young people in this industry. Prior to this I knew little of the construction industry and the types of apprenticeship available to young people seeking this pathway as a career choice. I have to say though, I feel that after just having spoken for an hour with Jenny, Sue, and Rob, my eyes have been well and truly opened!
Matthews Construction was formed in 2004. There are currently 4 directors, 3 of which qualified for their trades studying and training as apprenticeships. Matthews Construction is a multi-award winning company, having just won the Worcestershire apprenticeship employer of the year 2016.
The company has grown considerably over the last few years and now employ in excess of 15 direct employees as well as approximately 50 subcontractors. The works carried out started off as small residential extensions and quickly moved onto larger commercial buildings. One completed commercial building was the Cobb House on the outskirts of Worcester. The company now specialise in the construction of innovative, high quality, sustainably designed residential dwelling and are about to commence their largest project to date, a gated Georgian Square in the heart of Worcester.
One of the first things Rob, Construction Director, said to me during our meeting was, “The best way to learn is to get hands on experience doing the job. We believe that the key to a successful project is liaising with our clients at all stages of construction and ensuring communication is at the heart of the partnership. Our team have the relevant training, qualifications and experience to carry out their jobs efficiently, effectively and to the highest standard.”
Part of the ethos at Matthews Construction is ensuring that apprentices are “buddied up” and train with colleagues who have decades worth of experience. A young person, although lacking industry knowledge, is both keen and physically able to do the work. Their mentor, although full of industry knowledge, is perhaps not as physically capable of doing the work as they once were. This has been proven as a powerful teaching style through the sheer number of successful apprenticeships completed by young men over the years at the company.
The apprenticeship lasts 2 years but possibly longer should the apprentice wish to continue to higher levels. During their time as an apprentice, the student will learn multiple disciplines including First Aid at Work, Health and safety awareness, toolbox talks, working at height, any machinery usage ie. Paslode Guns etc. The typical qualifications expected of applicants is three GCSE’s A-C. But other than that, a willingness to learn and being enthusiastic about a job in construction is a great starting block.
Rob uses the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and local colleges to find out if they have any students who would be the right fit for the company. Currently they have 7 apprentices, two are just coming to the end of their apprenticeships, two are sub-contractor apprentices, and three are still in training within the company. I asked a couple of them some questions around their pathway choices;
Jarrel, Apprentice Carpenter, “My dad told me all about apprenticeships and that they were a great option if I was to learn whilst earning. My college offered the hard working students help to find an apprenticeship and it went on from there. Dad influenced me to do the apprenticeship. He thought it was the best thing to do after school. Even though I didn’t have the best grades at school I wouldn’t change anything as I have managed to be more successful than most of my school friends and I’ve settled into a great company!”
Luke, Apprentice Joiner, “I wanted to learn a trade whilst getting paid at the same time. My mum and dad influenced me in getting an apprenticeship so I could start a career whilst earning money. I wouldn’t do anything different because I reckon an apprenticeship is the best way to start a career.”
After having spent time understanding this business and their dedication and work ethic, I can see why it won Apprenticeship Employer of the Year 2016. This is a great company of choice to complete an apprenticeship with and I wish everyone at Matthews Construction all the best in the future.
If you want to find out more about a pathway in the construction industry, visit www.citb.co.uk for more information.
Until next time! For regular updates, follow @No1_apprentice