Anderson apprentices lay foundations for the future

A group of young people are making their mark on the world of construction after winning much-prized places on the Essex-based Anderson Apprenticeship scheme.

The nine-strong group have embarked on a two-year training programme, working on Anderson’s residential building sites across Essex, interspersed with classroom training at college.

Steve Hammond, Anderson’s Apprenticeship Co-ordinator, explained: “There is a massive skills shortage in the construction sector and the Government has set the industry a target to find an extra half million skilled workers by 2020.

“Our scheme is different to most other apprenticeship programmes because we guarantee all our trainees a job if they are successful and pass the course. They also receive ongoing professional development throughout their career.”

The apprenticeship scheme, for young people aged 18-25, has been running since 2003, ensuring the Chelmsford-based company – which specialises in transforming neglected or derelict sites – continues to build its own workforce and promote from within. The firm is also keen to encourage skilled workers to join the company and entice more women into the profession.

Apprentice Robbie Brooks, 19, from Canvey Island, is working on Anderson’s construction site in Luxborough Lane, Chigwell, where 60 new homes and a school for autistic children are being built.

He said: “I’m really pleased to be on this course because I know I have a good career and future ahead of me with the Anderson Group. I’ve always wanted to work in construction and this scheme is great because we get nationally-recognised qualifications at the end of it.”

The students will cover a wide range of subjects during their apprenticeship, focusing predominantly on ground-working skills.

At 25, Marc Keely from Clacton is the oldest apprentice on the scheme, having been a labourer previously. He is based at Anderson’s Tollgate site in Stanway, Colchester. He said: “What I like about this scheme is that we do something different every day. It’s great that they promote the apprentices internally and I’d really recommend the scheme to others interested in a career in construction.”

One of the youngest on the course, also from Clacton, is Jack Vella, who is 18. Jack is working on Anderson’s Brightlingsea site. Jack’s father Phillip and older brother Matthew also work for Anderson and recommended the scheme.

“I was previously a hotel kitchen porter but couldn’t see any future in it,” said Jack. “So I applied for the apprenticeship scheme, which I’m really enjoying. I like seeing the progression both in myself and in the sites we are developing.”

Max Turner, 20, from Chelmsford, was delighted to win a much-coveted place on the scheme, which had four people vying for every position. He now works on the Dunmow site and said: “This programme is perfect because it combines a good mix of learning and experience. Everyone has a laugh and there’s great camaraderie.”

Three of the trainees on the scheme are from Witham: Adam Bennett, 20, plus Cameron Short and Marley Valentine, who are both 18. Mitch Oliver, 21, is from Wickford, and George Shread from George Shread, 17, from Romford.

Each apprentice receives the support of a buddy and a mentor with many of those who have been through the apprenticeship scheme becoming successful site managers and apprentice mentors themselves.

Laurence Shearcroft, from Canvey Island, joined the scheme in 2012 and is now a supervisor training to be a site manager at the age of 23. He said: “It’s a good career choice as you are building things every day. You have real pride in the job. Everyone helps each other which makes it a very friendly atmosphere.”

The Anderson Group also engages with charities who support young people who are not in education or training to encourage more people into the profession, and gives talks to schools. It also provides on-the-job training for local authorities, provides site visits for construction colleges and delivers training in health and safety awareness.