A new apprenticeship scheme, which is the first of its kind in the Midlands, is being launched to help young people in Coventry and Warwickshire gain work experience, training and qualifications.   Coventry-based Whitefriars Housing, City College Coventry, Coventry City Council and BAM Construct UK are creating 30 construction apprenticeships during the next two years for 16-18 year olds studying at City College.   More businesses are being encouraged to join the scheme, which was launched at the college on Tuesday, February 8, to boost the number of opportunities for young people.   The launch comes as the Government announces plans to create an extra 100,000 apprenticeships in the next two years and a new City & Guilds survey has shown that 89 per cent of employers see apprentices as key to the success of their business over the next two years.   The scheme will see students at City College being offered work placements with construction companies locally and regionally. The apprentices are employed by BAM Construct UK, one of the UK’s largest construction companies and which has a regional office in Coventry. Apprentices will move around the other organisations in order to get the right work experience and training for their chosen qualification. Chiel Construction, Keepmoat, Bovis and Thomas Vale are some of the organisations which have already signed up to the scheme.      Whitefriars Housing and City College are also offering work experience to the students, and BAM Construct UK is working with its supply chain to expand the list of companies involved.

  Pete Brady, the scheme manager for the project and operations manager at Whitefriars’ training and development agency, explained: “These apprenticeships are going to be open to students who would not normally get work experience or an apprenticeship. So far 17 people have been interviewed and there are four people already in place. It is proving to be a popular opportunity.   “This is the first project like this in the midlands because we are employing the apprentices directly through an existing major construction company rather than setting one up especially to employ the apprentices.   “Once we have established the scheme we are hoping to call on more companies to see if they would be able to take on shared apprentices. We hope to be able to create more apprenticeship opportunities over a broader skills base to help people gain more varied experiences.”   The project is being funded by Coventry City Council, City College and the National Apprenticeship Service.   Cllr Linda Bigham, Cabinet Member for City Development, said: "This is an excellent scheme and I'm delighted we have been able to help fund it. These are extremely difficult times for young people trying to make their way in the job market so it is great to have the opportunity to get real practical experience within the construction industry while also studying."

  Nineteen-year-old Kester Jones, from Cheylesmore, is one of the four apprentices already on the scheme and is working with Chiel Construction on a development in Canley.

  He said: “Doing the practical work and getting stuck into the job is such a great opportunity. It’s hard to get a job at the moment but I am really hoping with two years experience as an apprentice it will make it easier for me to get a job.   “I am really enjoying the experience and like the people I am working with.”   Businesses interested in joining the shared apprenticeship scheme can contact Pete Brady at Whitefriars Housing on 024 7676 7140.