Manchester contractor continues successful professional-apprenticeship scheme
Four new professional apprentices have joined the Russell WBHO Building Student Training Programme. Megan Boyden, 18 from Walkden, Kieran O’Connell, 20 from Stockport, Isabelle May, 18 from Liverpool, and Lydia Ashley, 18 from Glossop, have all secured fully-funded construction degrees at the University of Salford as part of their employment at Russell WBHO.
The successful quartet were selected from around 125 applicants for the five-year programme, which sees candidates attend university one day per week and work on live projects the remaining four. After two years’ experiencing different aspects of construction, such as project management, engineering, quantity surveying, and estimating, they will choose a specialism and, following their successful completion of the course, go on to secure a full-time position.
Director John Millward oversees the Building Student training programme, He said: “We had an extremely high number of applications this year, yet these four candidates really stood out. We look for evidence of hard work, commitment and passion for the industry, people who we feel will make the most of this opportunity, and we are confident this group of trainees will do just that.
“The training programme is the most important part of how we as a company are investing in the next generation of construction professionals, ensuring they have the right knowledge, experience and character to go on to working on multimillion pound projects.
“The success of the programme over the last decade has seen numerous trainees graduate to working full time for the company, with many rising through the ranks to senior levels and the vast majority staying with us for a large portion of their career. We are delighted to welcome our new starters and look forward to seeing them progress over the next five years.
“Many businesses have suspended their student programmes this year, due to the pandemic, however the board agreed this would be short-sighted, and opted to continue with the 2020 recruitment process. The Building Students bring a new energy to our business every year, and we’re thrilled to welcome Megan, Kieran, Isabella and Lydia.”
The professional apprenticeship programme is run in partnership with the University of Salford. Earlier this year Russell WBHO was named Best Large Employer at the university’s annual Apprenticeship Awards, and trainees working on the team’s NOMA projects hosted a visit from Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green MP during National Apprenticeship Week.
Employees across the business, including trainees already on the programme, are heavily involved in promoting construction careers by taking part in events at schools and colleges across the area. Abbie Norton joined Russells in 2017 after taking her A-Levels at Sixth Form college and has become something of an ambassador for young people in construction.
She said: “Being on the Building Student programme is an incredible opportunity and I’m loving every minute. I’m so grateful for the chance to get my qualification while also learning on the job from experienced professionals, and working on major projects such as the NOMA regeneration and the new Clayton Hotel in Portland Street, both in central Manchester.
“I believe it is important for those of us working in the industry to play our part in opening young people’s eyes to the huge range of opportunities that a career in construction offers.
“Most of what I knew came from my dad who is in the industry, but a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions which I’m keen to help them overcome. I hope by attending these careers events I can help to educate and even inspire someone to take a look at construction and realise how well trained and professional we are, and what an interesting and varied career it can be.”
Applications for the 2021 intake are now open. For more information about the Russell WBHO Building Student programme click here.