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Apprenticeships: “The possibilities are endless”

February 8, 2021

The Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration scheme is all about futures – not just the future of the borough, but of the people who live and work here.

Which is why National Apprenticeship Week (8-14 February) fits so strongly with the ethos of the project, as Barnet Council and its partners continue to invest in young people and skills.

Matthew Perrin (pictured), 26, is working on the construction of the new Brent Cross West station, for Barnet Council’s partner VolkerFitzpatrick. He is on his third apprenticeship, having started with a one-year Level 2 NVQ in rail engineering, and now studying for a five-year honours degree in civil engineering at London South Bank University which he combines with his job.

Matthew said: “If you do an apprenticeship you have to dedicate yourself to it. Working on the railways there’s a lot of weekend work, there’s your studies, and your family life – you can’t be half-committed. But if it’s a career you believe in, and you’re willing to put in the hard work and the effort, then the possibilities are endless.”

Matthew is an active champion of the value of apprenticeships, helping with VolkerFitzpatrick’s support programme for Barnet and Southgate College students. This includes giving talks at site tours and delivering engineering masterclasses to students.

21-year-old Adam Phillips is one of the many young people whose futures were thrown into doubt when the COVID-19 pandemic began and he was placed on furlough, meaning he did not know when he would be able to return to work and finish his apprenticeship.

However, Barnet Council had taken an active role in engaging with a variety of businesses, including securing partnerships with companies to allow apprentices to continue with placements.

This led to Adam finding a role, via VolkerFitzpatrick, with Henry Construction as a project manager. He is due to finish his qualification later this year.

He said: “I am grateful for the support that I and my fellow apprentices are receiving though these difficult times by Barnet Council. Their efforts are fully felt by me and other apprentices.”

Constructions projects such as the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration project illustrate the importance of apprenticeships to the private sector too. Studies suggest that the construction and built environment sector will have a gap in its workforce of over 150,000 people by 2022. The Brent Cross Cricklewood scheme will be a key creator of employment in the industry, with 3,000 construction jobs being created in the first phase alone.

Whether you are a school leaver or a university graduate, just setting out on your career or looking to change direction, apprenticeships can be an opportunity for people in many industries. But they are also an opportunity for employers, offering multiple benefits to organisations who help people to learn skills whilst they work. Barnet Council employs 93 apprentices in its schools, social care services, gardening and grounds work teams, street cleaning and rubbish collection departments, and back office roles.

Cali Ibrahim, Barnet Council’s senior S106 employment and skills officer, works with employers and apprentices across the area. He said: “Apprenticeships encourage organisations to keep industry knowledge up to date, including technical skills, making them competitive in the market. In a recent study, 78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity and a further 74% said apprenticeships helped them improve the quality of their product or service.”

Cali’s role reflects the council’s wider commitment to ensuring our communities benefit from major projects in the borough, including the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration project. S106 agreements mean that larger developments are required to make contributions towards local employment and skills initiatives.

Cali said: “Apprenticeships can be an engine for social mobility. In Barnet, we work with developers to ensure residents can benefit from growth and development within the borough.”

If you are interested in apprenticeships on the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration project, contact Cali Ibrahim on skills@barnet.gov.uk

To find out more about the Brent Cross West station project, click here. And to find out more about the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration project, click here.

You can also read a story about apprenticeships at our partners Galldris here.