A GROUP of construction students have rebuilt an abandoned pottery warehouse under a revolutionary training scheme backed by celebrity builder Tommy Walsh.
Engineering Real Results, the largest trades training organisation in the UK, has been buying up neglected and derelict properties in a multi-million pound move giving tradespeople of all ages a way round restrictive Government legislation which forces them to beg for unpaid work.
And now, the flats they have rebuilt from the wreckage of the factory are destined to house more students from Staffordshire university nearby.
The scheme allows the trade students to comply with Government rules which demand apprentices carry out 100 hours practical training.
Now they can complete their qualifications in as little as six weeks rather than years.
The project included the old factory on Paxton Street, Hanley.
Hanley is one of the six towns which joined up to form the city of Stoke-on-Trent in 1910. The renowned writer Arnold Bennett, was born in nearby in Hope Street, in 1867. He wrote A man from the North and Anna of the Five towns, Sir Stanley Mathews was born in Hanley too in and of course Robbie Williams was born in nearby Tunstall.
Dr Jan Telensky, the financial angel behind the scheme, said: “Hanley is so steeped in history having made its mark in the pottery industry but we must never forget life was hard in Victorian times in Stoke … I have been here many times and I remember the wonder I felt at this grand old town with its dark imposing buildings and its wonderful rolling countryside.”
Ground Force star Tommy said: “The Government’s commitment to building hundreds of thousands of homes is threatened by skill shortages. Britain has plenty of young people ready to build a new life for their families by learning a trade but they come up against a brick wall when it comes to completing their skills-set – they need practical experience to prove they can do the job and they find it very difficult to get.”
Dr Telensky said there have been thousands of new construction jobs this year as builders attempt to meet Government targets – but apprentices who spent years learning to become plumbers, gas fitters, bricklayers and electrician have been missing out because of the legislation.
He said: “Our own apprentices were losing out. This new scheme, New Vocational Quickstart, involves renovating properties across the country and enables them to get there NVQ in just weeks instead of years.”
The company has also been buying properties in Watford, Cardiff, Southampton, Featherstone in Yorkshire, Livingstone, West Lothian, Cardiff, Basildon and Wolverhampton.
A spokesman for Brighter Homes, set up to supply practical training for students, said: “We are committed to getting students into work and if we can help them get onto the housing ladder too that would be brilliant.”
Paul Senior, chairman of the National Federation of Builders, also backed the scheme, saying: “Anything to provide training and experience to young construction students is a very good thing. The industry is very dependent on up-to-date skills and experience and we welcome innovative solutions such as Engineering Real Results.”