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Stafford and Rural Homes expands scheme to offer work experience for young people

A Stafford landlord is expanding its pre-apprenticeship programme by taking on more recruits to create opportunities for young people.

Will Parton and Lucas Phillips are among the latest in a long-line of young people to join Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) as part of the housing association's Construction Operatives scheme, which combines practical work experience with life skills training.

The six-month programme is run in partnership with the Shaw Trust and aims to help young people to get a foot on the career ladder.

A former pupil of Sir Graham Balfour school, 17-year-old Parton has been working under the careful eye of his mentor, John Wilkes, who first joined SARH as part of a similar scheme and now works as a full-time labourer/driver for the housing association.

"It really is a great feeling when you see young people go on to secure a career in the industry after completing a programme such as this," Wilkes said. "I'm also enjoying the opportunity of being able to pass on a few skills.

"I know from my own experience how much of a difference such training can make when you are trying to get into a trade or the wider construction industry and, as one of the latest to benefit from the scheme, Will is doing very well and is really enthusiastic when it comes to learning on the job."

Parton says the support from his mentor and other colleagues at SARH is providing a real boost to his career aspirations.

"The programme is giving me an opportunity to build up my experience of working in the construction industry," he said. "I particularly enjoy joinery but as part of the programme I have also been working in other trades, including plastering, bricklaying and plumbing, as well as general ground works."

The six-month Construction Operative programme is open to 16-25 year olds who are out of work and looking to gain experience of a range of different trades. As part of the programme they also spend time at the SARH Learning Academy, studying a range of skills designed to help their job prospects.

Karen Armitage, SARH’s chief executive, said: "In our tenth anniversary year, we are continuing to invest in the future by providing opportunities for young people in the communities we serve. As Stafford's largest landlord and one of the area's biggest employers, we are in a unique position to help develop the tradesmen and women of the future." 

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