18099One of the largest housing and regeneration companies in the North East, Coast & Country, has helped secure an apprenticeship for one of its tenants at a local decorating firm.

Having completed Coast & Country’s Forging Futures programme, 30-year-old Edward Watson has now begun a one-year apprenticeship with Middlesbrough-based GV Decorators, during which he will learn all the tricks of the trade, whilst also gaining a decorating qualification from Redcar and Cleveland College.

The Forging Futures scheme is a unique venture between Coast & Country, its partner organisations and independent contractors that aims to provide training and engagement opportunities to unemployed residents in Redcar and Cleveland. The three week course is designed to build the self-esteem, confidence of participants and provide them with the employability skills that will make it easier for them to find full time work.

Everyone who completes the three week course gains a SFEDI qualification, Level 1 in Self-Marketing and Personal Enterprise from New College Durham and is also provided with an opportunity to gain hands on experience in the work place. These placements – either with Coast & Country or one of its partner organisations –  provides them with first-hand experience of the workplace, whilst they undertake sector specific training aligned to the current jobs market, which means that everyone who completes the course leaves with a much greater chance of securing a job.

Following Edward’s completion of the initial three week course, he began a placement at GV Decorators. During his placement Edward’s hard work ethic and positive attitude impressed GV Decorators so much that he was offered a year-long apprenticeship with the company, with the potential to gain further qualifications after that.

As part of his apprenticeship Edward will work as part of the GV Decorators team for four days a week, giving him the chance to learn and practice new skills with experienced professionals. The other day will be spent gaining a CITB qualification in construction, painting and decorating at Redcar and Cleveland College – meaning that Edward is earning whilst learning.

Chris Veazey, a director of GV Decorators, said: “Coast & Country’s Forging Futures is an excellent scheme for those who are out of work due to lack of qualifications or experience. It provides a real leg up to those who are down on their luck.

“It’s a great feeling to know that we have been able to help someone get back on their feet; to put something back into the community and help someone move away from claiming benefits.

“Most people on placement or apprenticeships come straight from school and aren’t prepared for the workplace. I think the fact that Edward is slightly older and has life experience means that he understands what a tremendous opportunity Forging Futures actually is and his work ethic reflects that.

“Edward’s attitude throughout his time with us has been outstanding. He has worked exceptionally hard and formed excellent relationships with his workmates. I would recommend anyone who is in a position to take someone on as part of the Forging Futures programme to do so immediately.”

Steph Pew, community investment officer at Coast & Country, said: “We’re very pleased that Edward has seized this opportunity and made the most of it. He is a prime example of how the Forging Futures scheme can provide that little extra bit of help that puts someone back on the path to employment and a better life.

“The most significant part of Forging Futures is that is provides meaningful, paid work placements that improve people’s self-confidence and provide them with the practical experience that employers look for.

“If you are a resident in Redcar and Cleveland who would like to improve their skills and knowledge required for the workplace, please get in touch to find out how Coast & Country could help you. With a range of training opportunities and regular work hubs across Redcar and Cleveland, your next job could already be waiting for you.”