Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 12.24.25A Washington flooring and carpet specialist has laid down a valuable lesson for students piloting a unique work experience programme designed to help them make meaningful career choices and gain practical experiences for their CV’s.

The Future 4 scheme has been developed by Bedlington charity, Leading Link whose aim is to provide real life opportunities to maximise the potential of young people via business and enterprise. Students from St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy in Bedlington visit and experience real work situations and once all five workplaces in the scheme have been visited, the students identify the type of work they want to look into further and then go back to their choice of employer to carry out a short work experience project.

The latest visit saw the students visit Newlife Contracts in Washington where they were given a talk about the business, saw how carpets are stored in the warehouse, learned how to calculate a square meter and saw how sales had benefited from it’s online presence.

Managing Director James Cruddas has worked in the flooring industry for 26 years and joined Newlife Contracts in 1999. He subsequently bought out the company from his business partner in 2007 just before the recession struck. The company, which has been trading since 1971, had mainly worked on large flooring contracts with customers such as house builders but work began to dry up when the construction industry was hit hard by the downturn.

Newlife switched (expanded) its focus to smaller customer and domestic buyers, selling at trade prices to the public from its warehouse on Crowther Industrial Estate. The company now holds a massive range of stock sourced straight from major manufacturers and sells a lot of specials and discount lines.

“ I worked my way up through the business from what started out as a holiday job with a carpet firm when I was a student to buying this business and growing it. It’s great to share life experiences with the youngsters and hopefully they will go away with an appreciation of the different types of jobs we have here from admin, to showroom sales staff and warehousing,” said James.

Other firms that have pledged to help with the project include Blue Line Taxis, Northern Gas Networks in Sunderland, HMS Calliope the Royal Naval Reserves base in Gateshead and Northumbrian Bearings in Cramlington.

 Lyn Horton from Leading Link explained why the scheme was so important to not only the students but to the employer too.

“We all know that jobs are at a premium and that students have to show that they are the very best in order to succeed. This pilot scheme gives students important tangible experiences that they can put onto their CVs giving them a head start over others. On the other hand, employers benefit as it can offer them a steady stream of talent and may also help to reduce recruitment costs such as advertising and recruitment agency fees.

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