Young and unemployed people have been given the opportunity to grasp a life-changing chance to learn trade skills at Frank F Harrison’s Skills Centre on Beechdale Estate, Leamore.
The centre is being used by learners who have enrolled on Walsall Adult & Community College’s Construction and Green Skills Academy.
Eleven students are taking part in the 24 week programme which began in April and is aimed at learners aged between 18 to 24, who are out of work and are not in education or training.
The apprentices will be taught an array of skills, including brickwork, plastering and plumbing, and achieve a Level One City & Guilds qualification upon completion of the course in October 2012.
Among the group of male learners is 20-year-old Rachel Letford (pictured above) from Walsall.
Rachel was on Job Seekers’ Allowance when she discovered the programme and was keen to join the course when she spotted the advertisement at her local job centre.
“I’ve always been interested in construction and I’m not one for sitting at home,” she says as she takes a short break from her plastering.
“I’d studied Painting and Decorating at Walsall College for three years when I left school but I couldn’t find a job in that field.
“My parents have supported me in whatever I’ve chosen to do. I guess I’m more of a practical person and I’ve always enjoyed putting my hand to decorating at home.”
And was she hesitant about joining an industry where most stereotypical workers are male?
“Initially yes, I guess so, but it really isn’t a big problem. The lads are great to get on with. From day one, we got on very quickly and my gender and the colour of my skin has never been an issue. We enjoy socialising after college and there’s a real camaraderie developing among us.”
John Rawlinson, one of Rachel’s tutors at Frank F Harrison added: “Rachel has done really well since she started here. Her attendance has been very good and she’s a hard worker which are two key ingredients to succeed on this course.
“She’s demonstrated she has a real flair for plastering and her assessments are of a high standard.
“We’re confident that she’ll complete the course.”
From September 2012, the college will be recruiting new learners to its Construction & Green Skills, Sports and Health & Social Care Academies.
Maria Gilling, college principal said: “There is a major need for young people in our communities to learn new skills, to receive information about training opportunities and gain experience in the workplace.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for young people to learn the basic skills of construction as well as improve their functional skills in writing, spelling and learning computers.”
To find out more call the college on 01922 663000, visit www.wacc.ac.uk or look up ‘Walsall Adult & Community College’ on Facebook.