Six young offenders were given a valuable insight into life in the building trade and into the sort of jobs that might be open to them during an “employment taster” workshop at a Fenland firm.
The day-long programme at Fosters Property Maintenance in Wisbech showed them what working in the various trades involved and gave them the chance to do some hands-on work themselves.
The six teenagers aged 15-18 - including five from Fenland - tried their hand at some plumbing tasks, guided by recently qualified plumbing apprentice Ben Pooley, who is also one of the nominees for Apprentice of the Year at this year’s Fenland Enterprise Business Awards (FEBA).
Later they visited a new-build housing site in Parson Drove, where Fosters is building 12 new affordable homes for Roddons Housing Association. There they got to see various trades at work and experience a live building site.
They also talked with two members of College of West Anglia (CWA) staff about courses available there.
The workshop was a pilot project in a scheme aimed at breaking down barriers for young offenders to help them escape from a cycle of antisocial or criminal behaviour and move into work, training and other positive activities.
It was a joint initiative organised by Fenland District Council, the Fenland Enterprise in Education (FEE) project and the Fenland Community Safety Partnership in conjunction with Fosters and the youth offending team at Cambridgeshire County Council.
Later one of the teenagers described the day as “very useful”. He said: “I learned a lot. I didn’t really know what to expect before I came, but I wanted to see what the workplace was like and what opportunities might be open to me. I also spoke to someone from the local college and found out about some evening courses that I can take.”
The workshop was the latest in a series of activities organised by FEE and FDC to bring employers, schools and colleges together to improve young people’s employability skills.
Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s deputy leader and portfolio holder responsible for skills development, praised Fosters for all the effort they had put into the day.
“Providing the support and inspiration for young people to move into training and employment is a very important priority for the council,” he said.
“We are immensely grateful for the support we received from Fosters to help some of our most disadvantaged young people make positive changes to their lives.
“The company’s staff worked as a great team with our officers and those from the county council to make the day a success.”
Steven Foster, a director at Fosters, said: “We are committed to employing local people, including apprentices and trainees. This kind of initiative raises awareness by helping demonstrate that there are opportunities out there and employers are willing to invest in people and in training them, so we are glad to be able to offer the initiative our support.
“We are already in discussions with FDC and FEE regarding an ongoing programme for different groups.”