Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Manchester independent builders merchant Benchmark Building Supplies last week, to mark the launch of the Government’s £1bn Youth Contract initiative.
Clegg met apprentices employed at the business and spoke to Tom Arrundale, BMF National Apprentice of the Year. Benchmark has placed over 100 construction related apprentices over the past three years.
Managing director Phill Brown told the DPM about about the benefits an energetic apprenticeship programme can bring to a company. He said: “the integration of youth and energy has paid massive dividends to the business and we work closely with all local colleges to deliver a structured and rewarding program.”
In a world where obtaining an expensive university degree no longer guarantees a job, many 16-24 year olds are looking for alternative routes to get on the jobs ladder.
Apprenticeships have been gaining popularity in recent years and according to official figures published in January, there were 457,200 new starts in 2010/11, a 63.5% increase from the previous academic year.
“In addition to investing in young home-grown talent, we also have a long tradition of working with local junior sports teams and youth organisations” Brown added.
He also talked about the state of trade and recommended the Government give a boost to the construction industry and look at reducing VAT on repair, maintenance and improvement to properties.
Also discussed was the lack of knowhow in the renewable energy marketplace, and how the Benchmark Training Academy is helping contractors obtain the correct accreditation to fit new insulation and sustainable building solutions.
The company is a recent trustee and patron of Mahdlo, a new state-of-the-art facility in Oldham town centre offering every young person in the borough the opportunity to access a top quality, safe, and affordable place to spend their leisure time.
This £5million world class centre is open seven days a week, 52 weeks a year and will help make a noticeable and positive difference for the young people of the borough.