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Bloor Homes apprenticeship scheme building on its success

As England celebrates National Apprenticeship Week (March 6-10), find out more about the unique approach being taken by Bloor Homes as we bid to address the skills shortage facing the construction industry.


06/03/2017 - Careers

Last month the Government announced its long-awaited Housing White Paper, outlining a series of measures aimed at tackling the country’s housing shortage.

Among the key priorities was a call to housebuilders to invest more in training to help grow the construction workforce.

Bloor Homes is already rising to the challenge, with an apprenticeship scheme that has grown year on year since it was relaunched back in 2014.

It was then that the company introduced the role of bricklaying apprentice master, a position dedicated to mentoring and supporting new apprentices on site.

The idea, which came from company founder John Bloor, who entered the industry as a plasterer before going on to build what is today one of the largest privately owned developers in the UK, quickly marked out Bloor Homes’ apprenticeship programme as the scheme of choice for school leavers looking to get ahead in the industry.

“The scheme is unparalled in the housebuilding industry”, explains Steve Ellis, one of seven Bloor Homes apprentice masters across the country.

“Because my job as apprentice master is solely to oversee the apprentices it means I have more time to spend with them, guiding them through the whole construction process and offering additional support when they need it.”

Steve, who has almost 30 years experience in the industry, is currently based at the King’s Gate development in Amesbury, Wiltshire, where he has overseen apprentices build their own house from scratch as part of the scheme.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for the apprentices and gives them a really good solid base so that when they complete their apprenticeships they have the confidence and the knowledge to build their own houses.

“There is a huge demand for new houses and a massive skills shortage so there are brilliant opportunities for young people to learn new skills, become their own boss and earn very good money. Bloor Homes’ apprenticeship scheme is perfectly designed to enable our new starters to take advantage of those opportunities.”

One talented young bricklayer who has excelled after joining the developer’s apprenticeship scheme is 19-year-old Jack Broadbent.

Jack, from Droitwich Spa, last year took part in the UK finals of World Skills, a competition which recognises excellence among apprentices in a variety of trades, and will now compete for a place at the 2019 World Championships in Russia.

Based at the Prestbury Chase development in Cheltenham, Jack has completed an NVQ Level 2 in construction, and his potential was quickly spotted on site by his apprentice master Brent Lintin.

“I’m having the time of my life working with Bloor”, says Jack.

“Brent has been an excellent apprentice master, and has really taught me a lot since I started my apprenticeship. Every day is a new challenge and we are always being introduced to different things on the site, which is helpful.

“It was really rewarding to take part in the World Skills competition and I’m looking forward to competing to be the overall UK representative in Russia.”

Following the success of its bricklaying apprentice master programme, last summer Bloor Homes appointed its first carpentry apprentice masters.

Martin Stain, 45, a former carpentry teacher at Walsall College, is the carpentry apprentice master for the Midlands region, and is based at the Bramcote Manor development near Nuneaton.

“Getting young people on site and physically crafting products is the best way to get them ready for professional work and it’s a great feeling to be teaching them the trade”, he says.

“Because my role is completely dedicated to teaching the apprentices, it means they get my undivided attention when I am on site, enabling me to continually monitor their progress and offer support and advice whenever they need it.

 “Apprenticeship schemes like this are so important to the future of housebuilding, and I’m proud to be doing my part as Bloor Homes’ carpentry apprentice master for the Midlands region.”

The number of apprentices on Bloor’s scheme continues to grow, and this year a further 27 will join the ranks, bringing the total number on the company’s books to 93.

Among the most recent intake is Ryan Murray, 16, a carpentry apprentice at the St Andrew’s development in Biggleswade, where he works underneath apprentice master Bonner.

“It’s been a stroke of luck for me personally to have been able to join Bloor’s apprenticeship scheme at a time when they’ve taken on specialist carpentry apprentice masters”, he says.

“I’ve enjoyed working underneath Colin during my time with Bloor Homes so far, and have been taking part in a good mix of work-related activities, of which roofing is my favourite.”

Will Bishop, 17, is a carpentry apprentice based at the Wilstock Village development near Bridgwater.

“I was thrilled to be accepted onto the Bloor Homes apprentice programme this year, and have really enjoyed my first few months on-site”, he says.

“Being able to take-on concepts such as low-level roofing and second fixes has been brilliant.”

Among the new bricklaying apprentices is Matt Jones, 16, who is based at Prestbury Chase in Cheltenham.

“I’m enjoying being involved in a labour-intensive environment at Bloor Homes, learning from not just my apprentice master but also the apprentices who have progressed into their second and third years with the company”, he says.

“Having finished my GCSEs at school, a hands-on apprenticeship is exactly the career path I wanted to follow. I’m glad I chose to join Bloor’s apprenticeship scheme and hope I will progress onto bigger and better things in the future.”