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National Apprentice Week: Lee Marley Brickwork Applauds Apprentices for Adapting to The Challenges of Covid-19

Lee Marley Brickwork

National Apprentice Week runs between the 8th-14th February and this year the team at Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd (@LeeMarleyLMB) are celebrating their amazing apprentices and how well they’ve adapted to the changes in training that Covid-19 has created. 

Lee Marley Brickwork (LMB) is one of the UK’s leading integrated brickwork, scaffolding and stone sub-contractors. The company recently employed Apprentice Training Manager Christian Hatherall-Good who is currently looking after 35 apprentices, (9 scaffold and 26 brickwork). Students are working on sites such as Oval Village Vauxhall with Berkeley Homes and Chelsea Barracks for Multiplex. 

Christian comments: “I believe that training on the job through an apprenticeship is the best way to learn. You can earn a wage while learning. I believe that real life learning is important, but cannot be all of the learning, as apprentices need to have the opportunity in a college or training centre to practice new skills, gain knowledge and have the opportunity to make mistakes, without it being detrimental to the build of the project and time constraints.” 

LMB Managing Director Lee Marley commented: “As a former apprentice bricklayer I appreciate the opportunities that a quality apprenticeship can offer. It is also essential for the construction industry to encourage young talent into the sector and focus on evolving skills in order to improve productivity.”

LMB has a firm belief in the need to develop the next generation of bricklayers, scaffolders, stone masons and steel fixers. Modern methods of construction are continually evolving, and the company want to ensure that the workforce of the future is equipped with the skills to adapt to this. The company has formed partnerships with Brooklands College, for brickwork, and the CITB, for scaffolding. This allows them to incorporate their own syllabus into the apprentice’s curriculum meaning that they are fully prepared to meet the changing needs of the construction industry.

The company continue to have a close relationship with a number of other colleges which allows them to offer greater geographic and trade specific coverage in their recruitment programme. 

How a construction company has filled training gaps in the absence of colleges

During the first Covid lockdown, it became clear that LMB apprentices would not receive the same theory and practical training they would have done at college and on site. This lockdown, with colleges being closed, the company have responded to the situation and developed a revised training plan, so their apprentices do not miss out on either the theory or practical side of their training. Before Covid restrictions set in, an apprenticeship at the company allowed apprentices to work on site four days a week and attend College one full day. In response to the current situation, the apprentices continue to have remote learning from the College tutor and from the Training Manager on their usual college day.

Christian continues to visit the apprentices on site in controlled and social distanced conditions in order to carry out teaching and provide guidance to the apprentices while they work. The apprentices are usually placed in pairs on projects.

Many of the company’s current apprentices are from Brooklands College.  Christian has been working closely with the College and between both parties a plan for training the apprentices has been developed. This includes Google classroom groups with a wide a range of resources available such as ‘how to’ videos, Workbooks, PowerPoints, scenario assignments, worksheets and revision quizzes. On the apprentices’ usual college day, they attend at least two, one-and-a-half-hour theory sessions on Google MEET’s group video call with their tutor.  Christian has also organised a one-to-one review session for each apprentice on |Google MEET’s with their tutor and on-site assessor. The aim being to check on the student’s wellbeing, work progress, targets and to provide advice on any work they needed help with.

Naomi Hamilton, 19, has just completed her bricklaying apprentice NVQ2 and will be beginning her NVQ Level 3 shortly, after that she’d look to getting her gold CSCS card and one day would like to be a supervisor.  Naomi won the first ever inaugural Female Trainee brickwork competition sponsored by Forterra in 2019. She has the following advice for others looking to get into the construction industry: Don’t give up, keep at it, your hard work will be rewardedAsk questions, you’ll find solutions which you can apply to your workKeep building your skillset – challenge yourself. If you’re a female don’t be afraid, believe in yourself and prove people wrong, you can do this in a male orientated industry.”

The next step for LMB will be to open their own training centre that would be at the forefront of brickwork and scaffolding training in the UK.  Watch this space! 

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