Stretford and Urmston MP, Kate Green, put herself in the shoes of a local apprentice – specifically steel toe cap boots – as she spent time on a Manchester construction site to experience a day in the life of a degree apprentice.
As part of National Apprenticeship Week, Kate was invited by Trafford Park-based Russells Construction to shadow quantity surveying degree-level apprentice, Abbie Norton. Abbie, who attended Flixton Girls’ School, is currently in her third year of a five-year degree apprenticeship at the University of Salford and employed full-time by Russells.
Abbie showed Kate the ropes at the NOMA regeneration project in city centre Manchester, where Abbie is currently working. Abbie and the
Russells team gave Kate a tour of several of their projects across the 20-acre redevelopment site, including a look round Redfern, Dantzic, and the award-winning Hanover building which Amazon has now chosen as its new Manchester headquarters.
Kate also met with Russells’ Commercial Director, Nick Sunderland, who talked about the Russells Construction ‘Building Student’ programme, a fully-funded degree apprenticeship which is delivered in partnership with the University of Salford.
Recruiting from local schools, Russells Construction now takes on around six to eight people each year, putting them through either a quantity surveying or construction management degree-level apprenticeship with the University of Salford. The company currently employs 20-degree apprentices at present, and hopes to double this over the next three years.
Degree apprenticeships allow students to get a construction degree while working, with tuition fees paid for by the employer and with the student earning a salary. Combining academic study with on-the-job training, they bring together the best of higher and vocational education.
Following the visit, Abbie said: “It was great to get the chance to show Kate what it’s like being a degree apprentice. I’m three years in with two left to go and I absolutely love it. Some of my friends have gone down the traditional university route, which is right for them, but I know that this is right for me. It’s hard work and challenging as you’re juggling work with university study, but I know that it will be worth it in the end, and I’m so grateful to Russells for providing me with this amazing opportunity.”
Kate Green MP said: “I was incredibly impressed by Abbie. The responsibility she’s been given at this stage in her career by Russells is fantastic. She’s working on some really high profile and high value construction projects, and she’s handling it with real passion and total professionalism. It’s clear that degree apprenticeships offer young people a vital opportunity to get into the world of work and get their hands dirty, whilst also gaining that important academic qualification.”
Adele Lochman, Degree Apprenticeship Business Development Lead at the University of Salford, said: “Russells is a brilliant employer to work with and we’re glad that we could show Kate how the business is really investing in young people through its ‘Building Student’ programme. At the University of Salford we’re delighted to work with a company that is so committed to developing that future pipeline of talent.”