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15 March 2017

Apprenticeship schemes boosted by housing investment

Local students have received valuable training opportunities thanks to local authority investment in housing improvement work.

Over 60 Modern Apprentices have been taken on by contractors that carry out improvement work to Wrexham Council’s housing stock.

The work is being carried out to ensure the Council achieves the Welsh Government’s Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2020.

Contractors who carry out housing improvement work for the Council are required to commit to Community Benefit schemes, which includes offering employment and training opportunities to local people.

The apprentices cover a range of professions including electricians, plumbers, joiners, and plasterers. They typically spend one day a week studying in college and four days undertaking practical work on site with their contractors.

A number of apprentices who study at Coleg Cambria in Wrexham were given an opportunity to meet Wrexham Council’s Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Ian Roberts and members of the Tenants Service Improvement Group at the Ruthin Road offices recently. The apprentices work for a range of local and national firms including Wates Living Space, Novus Property Solutions, GR Builders, CLC, Travis Perkins and GM Jones.

Daniel Davies, an apprentice joiner with GM Jones, said, “Being able to get real ‘on-site’ experience has been really useful for me. It’s paid work and it’s really helped me get to grips with the trade, going out to real properties, meeting customers and learning from the other professionals around me. I’m hoping to move on to a career in the trade once I’ve completed my course.”

Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Ian Roberts said, “We are carrying out the biggest housing improvements programme Wrexham has seen for many decades so it is vital that as much of this investment as possible can benefit our local economy. I’m delighted that so many young people have been able to gain from this and receive valuable work experience to help boost their career prospects. In 2017/18 we will be investing £56.4m to continue the work. This is the third year in a row we have broken the record for investing in improving our housing stock so this is great news for allowing schemes like this to continue.”

The £56.4m investment for 2017/18 includes a £7.6m Major Repairs Allowance Grant awarded by the Welsh Government to help local authorities achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

As well as training schemes, Community Benefits can also include refurbishing local facilities such as Community Centres, providing local employment and purchasing supplies from local businesses.

To date, over 70 employees have been provided with full or part time employment and over £63,000 has been donated as cash or in-kind to organisations or projects within Wales.

Cllr Ian Roberts said, “As well as training and employment, the schemes have also been able to benefit a number of community facilities and buildings. This is very valuable work for groups who often rely on donations and volunteers to keep their services running. We are committed to ensuring the investment in housing work can leave a social and economic legacy as well as a physical legacy.”