Contour takes on three apprentices

David McCourt

Chris Stockley, Matthew Mott and Rhys Jones are all studying and working for Contour Homes after money saved by the housing association was used to invest in apprenticeships.

18-year-old Stockley, of Shaw, Oldham, is working for Rochdale-based painting contractor ER Williams, and has completed a Level 2 NVQ in painting and decorating. He is currently working towards his Level 3 qualification at Oldham College and is hoping to move onto university to take a part-time construction and development course next year.

He said: "I don't know what I would've done without the apprenticeship. I've always wanted to work in the trade. My brother is a painter and decorator and my dad was before he retired.

"It's hard out there at the moment, and I've got quite a few mates who are struggling to find jobs or training. This is a great opportunity for me and it's opened the door to university."

Apprentices Mott and Jones are working for Oldham-based contractors Emanuel Whittaker whilst also studying at Oldham College.

Mott, aged 24, of Fitton Hill, is fitting windows and completed a Level 2 NVQ in Interior Fitting last year. He is being further supported onto a Level 3 qualification in Wood Occupations this year.

Jones, aged 17, of Chadderton, who has recently started a Level 2 course in Wood Occupations, said: "I really enjoy joinery and like the idea of starting and finishing a job. Since taking up employment I can afford to take driving lessons, which is brilliant."

Contour Homes invested in the three-year apprenticeships as a result of buying £3m of goods and services via the Manchester-based Procure Plus network during the current financial year.

As a consortium made up of housing associations, Procure Plus is able to bulk-buy everything from windows and doors to kitchens and paint, meaning money can be saved to invest in other things.

Ross Hemmings, regeneration investment officer at Contour Homes, said: "Using Procure Plus has generated savings that we've been able to invest in employment and training for Chris, Matthew and Rhys.

"Times are challenging, both economically and for the construction industry, and creating opportunities like these is really important. It's not just about making physical improvements to neighbourhoods, but creating an investment in skills that is lasting for our communities.

"Offering defined apprenticeships helps support people to achieve success in their chosen career, learning skills for life that will allow them to work in the trades and perhaps start up their own businesses."

As well as funding the apprenticeships, savings have also been spent on a variety of community and environmental improvements.

Mark Wilson, apprentice & trainee development manager at Procure Plus, said: "As a regeneration consortium of social housing providers, at Procure Plus we understand it is vital that we create these training opportunities for people to sustain long-term employment."

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