Six young people from Hereford have successfully completed the Get into Highways Maintenance programme run by Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) in partnership with youth charity The Prince’s Trust.
They relished the opportunity to learn new skills and gain work experience with BBLP crews in Herefordshire on the four-week course, impressing supervisors and managers with their hard work and positive attitude.
Andy Williams, BBLP’s contract director, said it was the first time the company had been involved with The Prince’s Trust in the county and he was delighted with how well it went.
“Everyone was enthusiastic and enjoyed getting stuck into learning more about what we do on the roads. As a company we are keen to support young people to get into the industry and I hope we will be seeing more of some of these young people soon.”
Among those taking part was Joshua Smith, aged 24, who, despite completing a college course in carpentry, had been unable to find a job. Reflecting on his time at BBLP, he said:
“I’ve enjoyed the work experience so much! I’m a very hands-on person and don’t like to be still for too long, so the more hands-on and practical the work, the better for me. Working on a hot box as part of a gang going around fixing potholes in the road was the most enjoyable part of the programme. I’ve enjoyed my time so much that I’m looking to pursue an actual career in highway maintenance, so fingers crossed it will work out for me.”
Another participant was 20-year-old Jake Eggerton, who regularly got into trouble when he was growing up. Put in care at 16 and living on his own, he had few aspirations and the outlook was bleak. In the last 18 months he has begun to recognise the need to take stock of his situation and consider his future.
“I’ve started to accept help and am doing a lot of voluntary youth work. I’ve made big improvements from how I was when I was put into care. Being forced into independence was dramatically hard and for the first couple of years it felt like it was me against the world and like nobody wanted me, but this last year and a half I’ve made some real good improvements. This course has really given me the motivation to get up and do something. I’ve met loads of new people and it’s been great – I couldn’t have asked for more help.”
Nationally Balfour Beatty sponsors 40 Get into programmes in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to provide training and work experience to the long term unemployed. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, training or education.
Kerry White, Prince’s Trust Programme Executive, said: “BBLP have been great to work with and everyone across Herefordshire has been friendly, helpful and has totally bought into the programme and helped out young people.”
She added that the most important part of the programme was to give young people a realistic expectation of the sector and to gain real, hands-on experience.
“This way they know what it’s like to do that job and then they’ve got that experience to apply for entry-level positions because they have the knowledge they wouldn’t have had prior to the Get Into programme.”
BBLP and Integral UK Limited are working with Herefordshire Council to develop a skills academy for the construction industry.