The College Merthyr Tydfil’s carpentry provision has received a best practice accolade for the success of its Creative Solutions Carpentry and Joinery pilot scheme.
Initiated for the 2016-2017 academic year, the carpentry provision was chosen as a pilot because it is an area in high demand that is normally oversubscribed. Not only has the scheme enabled us to meet this demand through allowing us to accommodate an additional cohort of learners but it has also enabled us to help these learners to successfully achieve a level 2 qualification in one year. Furthermore, five of these learners have now successfully progressed on to a CITB MA apprenticeship route and one learner is in the process of signing up as an apprentice. Many of these learners also had the opportunity to engage in European work experience through our Erasmus + programme.
This is a tremendous achievement for these learners, many of whom would have disengaged with education if they had not had this opportunity. Shane Brunker is one such learner.
Shane started on the Creative Solutions accelerated L2 Diploma Carpentry course programme in September 2016. During the first few weeks of the course, Shane was unfocussed and somewhat disconnected with the learning process. With the help and encouragement of his tutors, Shane applied for the opportunity to participate in the autumn 2016 Erasmus+ visit to Schleswig in Germany. During the visit Shane seemed to change, his attitude towards staff and the working situation became much more focused. He engaged with the German employer very well, not complaining about the long working day that is normal in the German construction industry and fully participating in the social aspects of the trip. Shane turned a corner during the experience, in his words:
“I wised up and realised that I wanted to be different, I wanted to succeed on my course– I wanted to make something of myself – Germany showed me I could do it.”
On his return to Wales Shane set about his studies with a renewed attitude. He put 100% into his studies and put himself forward to compete for the college in a number of skills competitions against older and vastly more experienced students from all over Wales.
In June 2017 the college was approached by a new company that was setting up in the Merthyr area and were looking for a number of apprentices. Head of Construction Simon Robson was tasked with providing 15 candidates for the 5 apprenticeships on offer. Shane was the first on the list. Unusually for construction employers the company wanted to conduct a 4 day interview process with training and testing. Shane was the first candidate chosen for a position and has now signed up formally as an apprentice. Dan Howard the Company training manager for Property Development and Construction company ‘How Refreshing’, commented after 2 weeks of employing Shane that
“He is very mature, working well and we would hope to place him in a supervisory role very soon.”
Shane has subsequently enrolled to complete a Level 3 diploma in carpentry as part of his advanced apprenticeship and is looking forward to competing in further skills competitions.
Head of Construction, Simon Robson, commented “Shane’s attitude, confidence and outlook is completely different and through Erasmus+ participation and guidance and support from tutors Shane is proof that young people can thrive and develop given opportunity.”
Shane will now accompany Simon to the Creative Solutions conference on the 14th December to talk about the Carpentry pilot at the college and share best practice with other learners.
The ‘Creative Solutions’ programme is designed to offer apprenticeship opportunities and career pathways in priority sectors, reflecting the future skills needs identified by the Regional Skills Partnerships.
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