School-leavers get chance to carve out career in construction at Ollerton training centre

Getting to grips at Old Ford Housing's Ollerton construction training centre

Getting to grips at Old Ford Housing's Ollerton construction training centre - Credit: Circle Old Ford Housing

New training courses are being planned by social landlords to give school-leavers in London’s deprived East End the skills to carve out careers in construction.

The East End has notoriously one of London’s highest levels of youth unemployment—yet the construction industry is booming on its doorsteps, with massive building projects at Canary Wharf, Whitechapel, Stratford and right along the Thames Docklands waterfront.

So the Circle Old Ford housing organisation is extending the training programme it has been running for its estate tenants to all local residents aged 18 to 24 who want to learn a skilled trade.

Those signing up to the courses starting in September at its Ollerton construction training centre work towards a City & Guilds accreditation, focussing on practical skills such as carpentry, plumbing, painting and decorating.

Recruitment starts next month and ‘taster’ days are being held throughout June and July.

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Cohen Lowe is one school-leaver who took up a course at the training centre and completed a plumbing qualification for an apprenticeship.

“I was influenced by my granddad,” he explains. “He’s a handy man and I wanted to follow him.

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“I really enjoyed the course at the training centre and got to learn the basics of plumbing.

“The tutors really believed in me and kept telling me that I was doing well and would have a good chance of getting an apprenticeship.”

The encouragement gave Cohen the motivation to complete the plumbing course.

“I began to believe I might really get a job at the end of my training,” he added.

And so he did. Cohen got a plumbing apprenticeship with KeepMoat when he finished his training.

Circle Housing has been running training schemes for over a decade for schools and for tenants on its housing estates in Bow and Old Ford, but is now extending the courses to all residents up to 24 living in the area.

The housing body’s construction training tutor Charmaine Brouard said: “We are determined to do all we can to create opportunities for unemployed young people to help them make the most of their lives.

“They would benefit most from tailored support and a formal qualification to help them gain a career in the construction industry.”

Around 160 people have been helped on courses in the past year alone at the training centre in Ollerton Green, off Jodrell Road, Old Ford. Training manager Rosie Hewson has all the information for wouldbe applicants if they call her 020-8981 9393, or email

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