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Leading civil engineering and groundworks company, O’Brien Contractors, has launched a work experience programme to provide school-leavers with an insight into careers in the construction industry.

The new scheme is designed to provide young local job seekers with practical experience and skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. It will also offer them a sense of belief, demonstrate that they can be valuable members of a working team, but most importantly, provide them with a passage into an apprenticeship scheme or employment.

The latest Government statistics have found that across the UK, 963,000 people aged 16-24 are not in employment, education or attending a training scheme, with 61% classed as unemployed. It has therefore never been more important to help younger people get a foot on the employment ladder, through work experience and apprenticeship schemes.

Tony Mitchell, Operations Manager, O’Brien Contractors, said: “The company has been fortunate to have great success over the years and we are keen to ensure we give back to the community whenever possible.”

“We have set up the programme to help and inspire young job seekers in their pursuit of employment. Employers look at experience gained when interviewing potential new members of staff and attending a work experience programme will make their credentials stand out.” said Tony Mitchell.

Each placement delivers high quality on-site experience related to the person’s training requirements. They are assigned to a site supervisor, who mentors them passing on the relevant skills, introduces them to the structure of working life and demonstrates the value of working in this sector.

At the end of the week, trainees come away with a genuine learning experience, highly motivated and a better awareness of their career aspirations.

Tony Mitchell, Operations Manager, O’Brien Contractors, said: “During the recession, 400,000 skilled jobs were lost in the construction industry and an estimated 400,000 are due to go through retirement over the next five years.”

“We feel it is crucial that the industry creates more schemes, like our work experience programme, to offer hands on experience to younger people at the grassroots level and get them interested in a career in construction.”

Louis Gray from Central Construction Training was the first pupil enrolled on the scheme and experienced a week on-site at the Accident and Emergency development at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton. Louis said: “I found the work experience programme very helpful and it gave me a better understanding of what I can expect from a career in construction.  I have learnt so much from my site supervisor in just one week and I feel inspired to continue developing my skills and apply them in a career in construction.”