Broadland District Council bosses Phil Kirby and Matthew Cross pick up new skills with young apprentices

Bosses at Broadland District Council have donned their 'L-plates' once more to mark national Apprenticeship Week in Norwich – one with a hair brush, the other with a paint brush.

The district council's chief executive, Phil Kirby, spent the day at the John Oliver Academy, on Red Lion Street, shadowing a group of year 12 students from Sprowston High and Taverham High schools.

While his deputy, Matthew Cross, turned painter and decorator by sharing a training room with a group of students at Construction Training Specialists Ltd (CTS), on White Lodge Business Park, off Hall Road.

Although more used to juggling a full diary, Phil approached the task of setting a full head of mannequin hair using rollers and setting lotion with enthusiasm.

He was mentored by NVQ level two apprentice hairdressing students, who are all aged 16 or 17.

The students had all completed Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQ's) in ladies hairdressing whilst still at school and are now all employed in salons across the city, spending a day each week training at the John Oliver Academy.

Phil said: 'I spend much of my time in meetings or behind a desk so it has been a big change to spend the day behind a head of hair. The young people that helped me are all skilled and hard working. They clearly demonstrate that learning on the job gives apprentices the chance to develop skills that employers need at the same time as gaining valuable work-related experience.'

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Matthew swapped his laptop and business suit for a paint brush and overalls and spent the day working with a group of NVQ level two diploma students studying painting and decorating.

He was kept busy learning how to apply emulsion paint, producing a stencil which he then had to apply to a wall, followed by learning how to use a lining fitch, a specialist brush to paint detailed thin straight lines. He worked with students who attend CTS on block release from employment and spend three weeks training followed by six weeks working.

Matthew said: 'The day spent training with the staff and students of CTS has been a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills and see both the results and benefits of apprenticeships. The students undertaking this training are all committed to learning the very best techniques and skills.'

Both were highlighting the advantage of apprenticeships offered by Broadland Council Training Services – the district council's training arm which offers work-based learning in a range of careers. Cllr Stuart Clancy, portfolio holder for economic development, said: 'Unemployment in 16 to 24-year-olds is the highest it has been for nearly 20 years.

'It is important to ensure that young people are trained in vocational skills that will increase their chances of finding employment in the future.

'Apprenticeships offer a head start in getting a career and provide the opportunity to earn and learn at the same time.'

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