Giving apprentices proper wages in building trade adds incentive, says East Thames Housing

The apprentices... D'Arcy Perry, Courtney Henry-Sang, Xavier Allen and Reubin Browne

The apprentices... D'Arcy Perry, Courtney Henry-Sang, Xavier Allen and Reubin Browne - Credit: East Thames Housing

Four apprentices have turned their lives around and managed to get permanent jobs in construction after showing skill, determination and work ethic while in training on an east London building site.

One even has a prison record, while another couldn’t get on the first rung because he had no experience.

Both found their way onto an apprenticeship programme through their social landlords, East Thames Housing, which pays real wages as an incentive.

Courtney Henry-Sang, 24, who lives on Stepney’s Ocean Estate, is training as a carpenter after a difficult time in his life.

“I was homeless when I came out of jail and my whole focus was to get a job,” he reveals.

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“I went to a recruitment service and told them I’m straight now and want to get into work.”

He was recruited, like the others, through the Joe Brennan construction training programme, in partnership with East Thames.

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“Joe Brennan saw my CV and interviewed me and could see I was serious about this,” Courtney added. “He took me on last May and I’m almost finished the training.”

But there is also real incentive for recruits to stick at it—in their wage packets, through East Thames Group’s investment in the construction industry.

Durkan Construction’s Paul McCrea explained: “They receive professional support and earn much more than standard apprenticeships.

“They get a real living wage that motivates them and gives them more enthusiasm to do the job.”

The four are all set to complete their apprenticeships by the summer.

Courtney’s workmate Reubin Browne, 21, another East Thames resident, completing a course in electrical installation, but not having a job before was his stumbling block.

He said: “The first thing they ask when you go for a job is whether you’ve got any experience.

“Then I saw the description of this apprenticeship and it was everything I wanted.

“It was good timing, something I’ve been waiting to do for a really long time.”

The apprenticeship programme looks for those who have completed or are working towards a Diploma in a trade at college, who can then be placed on site to complete the work based NVQ element. Anyone interested in joining the scheme can apply online.

All four apprentices have now secured permanent jobs which they begin after completing their training. They have also been given vouchers to spend on tools for their blossoming careers—with good wishes from the social landlords.

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