College apprentices join in a European exchange
- Credit: IAN BURT
Norwegian apprentices have started a four-week placement at a social landlord as part of an exchange organised by the College of West Anglia (CWA).
Carpenter David Stensland, 20, and plumber Stian Pedersen, 19, will spend the next month working around King's Lynn and west Norfolk on responsive repairs, refurbishments and new building projects for Freebridge Community Housing, based at its site on the Hardwick Narrows Industrial Estate.
They were brought into the country by the CWA after it successfully applied for 100,000 euros to support students visiting neighbouring European Union countries to learn their trades.
Chris Challender, who is responsible for external projects and competitive tendering at the CWA, said the programme was designed to give the students practical skills that would make them more employable - as well as break down barriers with other EU nations.
He said: 'The skills that we are promoting here are the skills that these they will need in real life.
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'It is about the employability of our apprentices and giving them the skills and knowledge they will require in the workplace.
'It is also about breaking down barriers with and showing the fact that there is a value in terms of the EU partnership.
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'A big part of our future economic growth is how we work with neighbouring countries, so this is very important.'
Dave Edwards, Freebridge's contracts manager, said the organisation's participation in the programme was a 'very exciting opportunity for the company'.
The programme enables the CWA to make links with college's in other European countries. However Mr Challender said Norway 'seemed a natural choice' given the country's focus on low-energy and energy-efficient housing.
After arriving in the country on Monday and getting a tour at the college, they were then transferred over to the Freebridge workshop at Hardwick Narrows the following day.
They will spend all of their time working there, with two Freebridge apprentices due to be sent out to Norway for the other half of the swap.
Mr Challender said: 'The apprentices from Norway will be doing the jobs that Freebridge employees do.
'They key to this programme, in terms of its success, is that the employer supports the apprentices and helps to make it a good working experience.'
Mr Stensland said: 'It is an interesting time for me. It will allow me to see how they build houses in England. It is very new, as my English is not that good!'
Mr Pedersen added: 'This is a big chance for me.'
Livvi Hodges, 20, an apprentice plumber at Freebridge who will be working with the two apprentices, said: 'I think it will be a good experience for them to see how different life is here.'
She said her advice to the two foreign recruits was to 'relax and have a good time' during their placements.