Green fingered apprentices

26th November 2014

Four Sheffield lads are digging deep to forge career opportunities created by the city's leading regeneration partnership.

Tom Proctor, 18, from Aston; Tommy Moakes, 20 and Robert Armstrong, 18, from Woodhouse and Liam Haywood, 21, from Shirecliffe have begun horticultural apprenticeships as a result of the work of Sheffield Housing Company (SHC). The quartet have been taken on by locally based Northern Groundcare, which has won the contract to carry out landscaping work on the housing developments currently under construction at Parson Cross, Norfolk Park and Shirecliffe. As well as learning how to turf, plant, seed and carry out all aspects of fencing, the green fingered apprentices also attend Sheaf College each week to study for their NVQ in horticulture. Said Tom Proctor:  -I had been working in a warehouse, part time and was desperate to land a full time job.  It's not what I ever imagined myself doing but I absolutely love it.  Maybe the winters can be a bit daunting but working outdoors in summer more than makes up for it.  We have a great team and I have learned so much in a relatively short time. Skills Made Easy, a Sheffield City Region initiative, provided Northern Groundcare with support by finding suitable candidates for the apprenticeships, identifying training provision and sourcing relevant funding.  This partnership working has ensured that these opportunities have been directed towards local people. Shaun Cutts, who launched Northern Groundcare back in 1998, said:  -We took on these four lads as a direct result of our work with the housing company.  It is fantastic to be able to give local people the chance of work and training on a scheme which is also helping to improve their home city.  All of them have risen to the challenge and show great interest and commitment to their work and their studies. Having established the business with his wife Linda, Shaun has cultivated a thriving groundworks firm, employing 70 people and operating over a 70 mile radius of Sheffield.  He added:  -Hopefully, over the coming months, we will take on a further six apprentices to meet the growing workload. The apprentices are the latest recruits to join businesses working on SHC projects.  Altogether 24 young people have been started in a variety of trades including bricklaying, electrical, joinery, painting and decorating, plumbing and roofing.  There is also a business administration apprentice working for the construction partner in the project - Keepmoat. SHC is a partnership between Sheffield City Council, Keepmoat and Great Places.  Its aim is to deliver homes of the highest quality and value and there is a 15-year plan to build 2,300 new properties in seven of Sheffield's most vibrant neighbourhoods. In addition to creating apprenticeship opportunities, SHC has commissioned £5.5 million worth of work and services from businesses within the city region.  This represented almost 30% of the total investment made in the construction. Tom Fenton, Project Director with SHC, said:  -Whilst our first priority is to improve the quality and choice of homes for sale and for rent in the city, we also want to create opportunities for local people and businesses to be involved and share the economic benefits of the programme. With phase one of the project 305 homes at Cutler's View in Norfolk Park, Brearley Forge in Parson Cross and Brearley Springs in Shirecliffe well underway, plans are now being drawn up for phase two of development.   This comprises a further 500 homes at least 450 of which will be for private sale in the same three areas and at Fir Vale and Manor. Meanwhile, any Sheffield businesses considering taking on apprentices can contact  at Skills Made Easy.

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