A group of job seekers in Cambridgeshire have seen their career paths fast-tracked thanks to a pilot training course on one of the country’s biggest road improvement projects.
Three months into main construction on Highways England’s A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvements scheme, the first in a series of pre-apprenticeship courses has successfully paved the way to a career in construction and a chance to build the road network of the future for a group of out of work people living along the A14 corridor.
The course, based at the West Anglia Training Association run Highways Academy, was designed to give the group a set of basic skills required to become an apprentice or gain a job on a variety of road construction projects. Skills developed included working with plant machinery on the on-site A14 mock-up road section, health and safety awareness on a construction site and CV and interviewing skills.
And as an added bonus, all those who successfully completed the course were interviewed at the end of it for a chance to get an apprenticeship placement or a job with one of the contractors working on the A14 including earthworks companies Blackwell and Walters and traffic management specialist HW Martin.
Aaron Blankley, 38, from Bluntisham, signed up to the course to regain his independence and some financial security after having to rely on his family for two years due to health issues. He said:
I have some experience working with construction plant and equipment but I’ve never had formal training. This course is not like a lot of the training courses I have been on, I know there are real jobs at the end of it!
Leigh Evans, 45, from Huntingdon, joined the course to kick-start a successful career. He explained:
This project will give me the opportunity to get a job where I can have longer-term security and the chance to develop further thanks to ongoing training.
Daryl Simms-Johnstone, 28, from Somersham, saw this course as his way into a new career after leaving the armed forces.
I am really keen to get involved with plant and use the skills I developed driving tanks while I was in the army. I have worked on construction sites before but this course will allow me to access more jobs and better pay.
Aaron, Leigh and Daryl successfully completed the course last Friday (3 March). Aaron was offered a role as a trainee foreman, Leigh was offered an apprenticeship and Daryl was offered a role as a trainee plant operative. Another 10 people were offered jobs or apprenticeships at the end of the course and candidates are in the process of reviewing their options before choosing the best way forward for their careers.
The news comes as Highways England, the company responsible for operating and improving the country’s motorways and major roads, announced during this year’s National Apprenticeship Week that it has committed to recruit a further 90 apprentices and 46 graduates nationally over the next 7 months.
Gerard Smith, legacy lead for the A14 scheme at Highways England said:
The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme is Highways England’s biggest project currently in construction. We want to give people the opportunity to help us deliver this complex project and gain a career for life as a result. So it makes good sense for us to offer unemployed people locally the chance to learn while they earn via training courses and apprenticeship programmes.
The construction sector is growing and with Highways England committed to delivering a £15 billion government investment in our motorways and major A-roads by 2021, gaining the right skills now will open the doors to secure jobs, better pay and career progression. I am delighted that this pilot programme has already enabled some of our contractors to recruit apprenticeships and jobs on the A14 scheme and I would encourage anyone interested in a construction career to find out more about future opportunities now.
To find out more about apprenticeships and training opportunities on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon scheme, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For apprenticeships and job opportunities in other areas within Highways England, visit our recruitment website.
A new mobile visitor centre for the A14 project will make its first appearance on Wednesday 15 March 2017 at Tesco Bar Hill, Viking Way, Bar Hill, Cambridge CB23 8EL, to give people the opportunity to find out the latest on the scheme and ask us questions. The centre will be in the car park from 9:15am to 1pm.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.