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Salford apprentices make history

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Salford apprentices make history

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Published by James Allan for Salix Homes in Housing and also in Communities

Matt Casey and Rachel Howarth sign on the dotted line Matt Casey and Rachel Howarth sign on the dotted line

Two Salford apprentices have become the first in the country to enrol on a brand new qualification that will boost the construction industry.

Matt Casey, 22, and Rachel Howarth, 24 are the first people in the UK to sign up for the External Wall Insulation NVQ Level 3, which has been introduced at Salford City College.

The qualification is an advanced apprenticeship that will provide construction apprentices with the skills needed to keep homes warm – something that is currently lacking in the UK building industry.

Social housing provider Salix Homes worked alongside construction company Emanuel Whittaker, regeneration consortium Procure Plus and Trinity Business Training Group to develop the qualification in response to a skills gap in the industry.

Apprentices Matt and Rachel work for Oldham-based Emanuel Whittaker and have already completed Level 2 of the qualification and have been honing their skills on tower blocks across Salford.

Salix Homes, which manages 8,500 homes across Salford, is overhauling its ageing tower blocks and making them more energy efficient and Matt and Rachel have carried out insulation work on several blocks including Black Friar Court in Greengate and Floral Court in Broughton.

Colin Goodall, investment delivery manager at Salix Homes, said: “We are carrying out major refurbishments at our tower blocks as part of our Decent Homes investment programme, but we initially found there was a real skills shortage and we struggled to find tradesman who were qualified in external wall insulation, which is essential to make people’s homes energy efficient.

“We worked with our partners to launch this new qualification and generate a workforce of home-grown talent who could deliver this specialist skill. Matt and Rachel were among the first cohort of apprentices and I’m delighted they are now making history and going on to complete the next level of this much-needed qualification.”

Rachel, from Lower Broughton, who is the only girl on the programme, said: “I’m excited to be one of the first to enroll on this brilliant qualification, it’s a great opportunity for me personally and the industry in general.”

The qualification is now expected to be rolled out nationally due to demand from contractors and training providers for higher level insulation qualifications.

Lee Bradbury, health, safety and environment manager at Emanuel Whittaker, added: “Rachel and Matt are passionate about their work and have always been committed to their training. We are thrilled they are the first in the country to take advantage of this qualification which meets industry demand for the supply of insulation that reduces carbon emissions. The qualification will play a significant part in their career progression.”

Mark Wilson, who is responsible for apprentice and trainee development at Procure Plus, added: “It is a true achievement to have created this new qualification in partnership with our members which will support the construction industry as well as develop new career opportunities for qualified operatives in the construction sector.”

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