The first participants in a new initiative designed to boost the skills of disadvantaged young people in Cambridge have graduated at a celebration event at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge.
The five-week ‘Green Skills - Pre-Apprenticeship Training’ programme, led by Groundwork East, was hosted by St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, and forms part of FutureIN – a Cambridge-based programme that provides young people from challenging backgrounds, including homelessness, who are not yet apprenticeship-ready - with work experience and short courses in property and construction.
The seven participants, recruited by TrAC Apprenticeships through Jobcentre Plus Cambridge, braved the elements to transform an unused space in the College grounds, culminating in the construction of a large gazebo adjacent to the College’s outdoor gym, with integral timber benches, a patio and a pathway to the new wooden structure.
Chris Dungate, Operations and Development Director, Groundwork East, said: “The young people have been truly inspirational. Their energy and dedication and the way they have supported one-another should be applauded. Not only have they developed friendships, practical skills and created something for the community to enjoy, they have also boosted their CVs, employability and longer-term prospects. This could not have happened without the commitment and financial support from the project partners and the hard work of the Groundwork East team, Andrea and Matt, who have been guiding the youngsters throughout.”
The project partners and funders include Globe Scaffolding, Howard Group and Urban&Civic, the master developers of the former barracks at Waterbeach.
Nicholas Bewes, Chief Executive, Howard Group, said: “Cambridge is a city of great prosperity, growth and talent. Yet, figures show that Cambridge is also the most unequal city in the UK. Projects such as this, which bring together local businesses, academia and charities, offer disadvantaged young people the opportunity to be part of the future success of Cambridge by giving them the skills and confidence they need to move into formal apprenticeships and long-term careers in the construction sector. If we work together, we can help to create a society where no young person is left behind and I would love to see similar initiatives take place elsewhere across our wonderful city.”
The feedback from the first cohort has been equally positive with participants saying it has been a great opportunity that they would recommend to others who have the chance to join a future programme. At the event they shared how they’d enjoyed working as part of a team, learning landscaping skills, and felt a real sense of achievement. Some are already applying for full-time apprenticeships and are being supported by TrAC and FutureIN.
During the event, where the new gazebo was unveiled for the first time, Graham Watson, Bursar of St Edmund’s College, congratulated the participants on their hard work: “You have worked incredibly hard, in all weathers, to produce such a well-designed and solidly built structure. The College is delighted to have been able to host such a motivated group, and proud to have a such a quality gazebo in the grounds which really demonstrates the teamwork and talents you have developed here.”