Apprentices and learners celebrate their success with Olympic Weightlifter Jenny Tong

Academy Apprentices from Kirkstall Forge and Learners from Wakefield celebrate their success

PICTURE: Construction Skills 4 Life learners with Olympic Weightlifter Tenny Tong and Ewan Metcalf from I Consult Yorkshire.

It was an evening of inspirational speeches, certificate giving and pizza on Monday 27 January as apprentices and learners from EN:Able Futures Apprenticeship Academy and Construction Skills for Life programme came together to celebrate their successes.

The evening was hosted and organised by CEG who run the Forging Futures Campus based at the Kirkstall forge site. Team GB Olympic Weightlifter, Jenny Tong, as on hand to help students and staff celebrate this landmark.

CEG and EN:Able Futures have been working together in partnership to expand the courses and apprenticeship opportunities available at the campus. It is estimated that the campus, which is based at Kirkstall Forge, has delivered more than £10.9 million in social value since the start of the development phase of the project in 2017.

The ceremony saw the latest cohort from the Construction Skills 4 Life course celebrate their successful graduation. More than 88 16-24 year olds who were unemployed, or not in school or vocational training have now completed the course, with 56 moving on to apprenticeships, jobs or further education. Some students continue working at the Kirkstall Forge site in roles including catering and maintenance, as well as taking on construction opportunities. 

Lucinda Yeadon, Community Liaison Manager at CEG, commented: “The Forging Futures Campus was born out of a desire to provide real opportunities and sustainable pathways to employment for local people in the area.

“As a company, we’ve always been very involved in a number of skills and education programmes around construction, but we felt that Kirkstall Forge offered us a golden opportunity to lead by example to tackle the skills shortages in the sector and at the same time, add real social value to local communities and the wider city.”

The regular Construction Skills 4 Life course, which is run in conjunction with I-Consult Yorkshire, helps long term unemployed and disengaged people to learn new skills, build confidence and identify routes to training and employment.

Students from the Professional Apprenticeship Academy, which is run in partnership between CEG and EN:Able Futures, with support from Leeds College of Building, also spoke at the event about how this programme has helped shape their futures.

Harris Mehboob, who is doing a Level 3 NVQ in Construction and Built Environment on the Professional Apprenticeship Programme, said: “Right from school I knew I wanted to do something practical with my career. I’ve always had an interest in construction but had a limited understanding of the range of opportunities available in the industry until I started studying at the Forging Futures Campus.

“The structure of the programme means you get to try out lots of different roles with firms and this has really helped me narrow down what I want to do. I spent my first couple of months working on projects around the Kirkstall Forge site and these experiences really helped what I’d learnt in the classroom click. I was helping to create real buildings, which made me feel part of something bigger.”

Julie Deeley, Head of Operations at EN:Able Futures, said: “The 10 Apprentices on the Academy cohort will graduate this summer and all of them are going into full-time employment or further higher education, which is fantastic and proves that the Academy provides a real viable alternative career route, where other traditional options might not be suitable.”

Kirkstall Forge is the oldest continually industrialised site in the UK and, once complete, the £400million development will comprise 1,050 homes and 300,000 sq ft of high-quality offices and 100,000 sq ft of leisure, shops and restaurants.

The Forging Futures Campus is located within the grounds of the 57-acre Kirkstall Forge site and provides vocational training, site visits and work experience for students, local people and young people not in education, employment or training. 

The educational Campus is located next door to the site’s Project Offices, providing a close association between the students and the team working on the Kirkstall Forge project and offering real opportunities for those on the course to be involved in the development of a live site.

A number of key firms in the city have signed up to support the Professional Apprenticeship Programme, including Cartwright Pickard, Turner and Townsend, Hoare Lea, Faithful and Gould and Arup.

Tom Bridges, Leeds Office Leader and UK Cities Advisory Leader at Arup, said: “We couldn’t be more excited and proud to be supporting CEG’s Forging Futures apprenticeship program, which we believe is best in class. This program has a genuine track record of positively changing people’s lives and creating valuable opportunities. Also as a firm, we’ve benefitted from being connected to and working with some of the great people involved in this programme.”

Yeadon added: “We’re very grateful for the support of all our friends and partners who help us to keep delivering these courses which enhance the lives of young people in the Leeds City Region and look forward to continuing this work.”

The Author

Written by EN:Able Futures