Award-winning housebuilder Crest Nicholson today proudly unveiled its plans to take on 200 new apprentices and launch a ground-breaking Site Management Academy as Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith visited its Sovereign Gate development in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire.
Mr Duncan Smith met with Crest Nicholson CEO Stephen Stone, Managing Director of Crest Nicholson Eastern Peter Diffley and a number of current apprentices during a tour of the site following Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement earlier today vowing to create 16,000 new apprenticeships.
Crest Nicholson has an established Apprenticeship programme to support the role of apprentices within the Construction sector, with apprentices making up 10% of the company’s entire workforce.
Crest Nicholson Chief Executive Stephen Stone explained to Mr Duncan Smith how the company expect to train a further 200 apprentices and how it is launching a new Site Management Academy which will allow its final year apprentices who want more than a Tools & Trades career to progress to Trainee Assistant Site Manager.
Mr Stone said: “Crest Nicholson is one of the country’s biggest employers of apprentices so we welcome the government’s announcement today and it has been fantastic to share our future plans for our established Apprenticeship Programme with Mr Duncan Smith today.
“We believe it must be a priority to invest in young people to ensure we have the right skills to guarantee we are continuing to build homes that people truly want to live in. We need to commit to developing jobs and skills at every level – this is the only way that we can guarantee that the industry is properly equipped to move forward, that supply can match demand, and that we can continue to innovate and drive best practice standards right across the board.”
Mr Duncan Smith timed his visit to coincide with Prime Minister David Cameron’s earlier announcement on Apprenticeships and hailed Crest Nicholson’s ongoing commitment to developing young people’s careers. He said: “It is fantastic to have Crest Nicholson backing Apprenticeships as they do, and it was great to be here today as they announced their plans to take on 200 more and launch a new Academy.
“We are committed to abolishing long-term youth unemployment: giving every young person who is able to work the skills and the opportunity to do so. Apprenticeships have a key role to play in this. We would like to see Apprenticeships given the same standing as a University degree - giving millions more people the dignity of work and a regular pay packet. A future Conservative Government is committed to creating three million more Apprenticeships over the next Parliament, and it’s great to have Crest Nicholson helping make this a reality.”
Prime Minister David Cameron earlier paid tribute to Crest Nicholson and other apprentice employers as he announced the government’s plans. He said: “There really has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship and it’s a huge leap forward to have even more of Britain’s most prestigious employers hiring apprentices.
“We’ve already created 2.2 million Apprenticeships since 2010 but a future Conservative government is committed to opening up three million more high quality Apprenticeships – to help strengthen our economy and communities and give millions more people financial security.”
Crest Nicholson has been running its Apprenticeship Programme for the last five years, whereby each apprentice is offered a fixed term contract to see them through a programme of training in support of coursework requirements to gain an NVQ Level 2 and sometimes Level 3 qualification. Continuous support is offered by the local college, where training is delivered by ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council and Industry Training Board for the construction industry.
Apprentice carpenter Richard Smith, 22, who is based at Crest Nicholson’s Centenary Quay development, said the Crest Nicholson Apprentice Programme had been a fantastic learning experience. He commented: “One of the major benefits has been the opportunity to learn on the job and I’ve really enjoyed working on local developments and the people I work with.”
Apprentice decorator Harry Pearson, 19, who works at Crest Nicholson’s Severalls Hospital development in the Eastern region, has been part of the Programme for nearly two years. He said: “It’s been great to have the chance to learn about all the different disciplines and see how various techniques and skills can be put into practice to create a new home.”And 20-year old decorator Maisie Lapham, who is approaching her third year and is currently based at Crest Nicholson’s Port Marine development in the South West region, added: “I’ve really enjoyed working for a company with such high standards and quality of work. There are lots of opportunities to move up the ladder, with all the help and training to support us. It’s been great to have the chance to learn about all the different disciplines and see how various techniques and skills can be put into practice to create a new home.”