Two well established construction businesses collaborate to offer apprenticeship bursary

A collaboration between two Ipswich-based construction companies has led to the employment of an 18-year-old as a full-time craft apprentice.

Ethan Doman, who lives in Ixworth, has been taken on as a Carpentry and Joinery Apprentice by local sub-contracting company, M&S Contractors, and his role is being 50 percent funded by construction management business, Barnes Construction, who are based on Ransomes Europark.

The idea of an ‘Apprenticeship Bursary’ came from an initial conversation between the Chairman of Barnes Construction, William Barnes, and its Joint MD, Mark Hart, when they discussed ways that the business could give something back that was for the good of the construction industry, and which would enable a young person to get their first foot on the career ladder learning a highly skilled trade. 

Having worked together for over 30 years, the relationship between Barnes and M&S had developed to be more than just a working one. So, it seemed right for Mark to pick up the phone and talk to Simon (Gus) Cutting, M&S’s Managing Director.

He explained: “I know that M&S gets a lot of young people applying for craft apprenticeships, so I suggested that Barnes would like to part fund an extra position within their business. Both businesses have a history of taking young people on; since we started trading over 40 years ago, we have run our own Management Trainee programme very successfully. Today we are proud that over 60 per cent of our workforce has come through this route working their way up in the business – in fact four of our directors joined us as management trainees. However, this move, to part fund an apprentice position with one of our supply chain partners was for us, about doing something good for the industry, without necessarily getting anything back.”

Gus didn’t hesitate and was quickly able to identify someone who would be an ideal candidate. “At M&S we have always had an obligation to bring young people through; we are incredibly proud that we have had three Apprentices of the Year Award winners. We had already taken on our annual cohort of new apprentices, so the offer from Barnes to support us with funding 50 percent of the cost for a further apprentice was a ‘no-brainer’ for us! I had received an application from Ethan, so I asked him in for an interview. He wanted to be a carpenter and what impressed me was that he had already been attending West Suffolk College for a year doing the City & Guilds (C&G) in Carpentry and Joinery – to me that showed commitment.

“So, I offered him the job and he is now onboard and will be continuing his three-year apprentice at M&S, spending one day a week at college studying for his C&G Diploma.”

Ethan is loving the job and is thankful to Barnes and M&S for giving him the opportunity.

He said: “I have always had a passion for carpentry and to be sponsored by two well established local companies has given me a real sense of pride to go with that passion.

“I know that the pressure will be on for me to pass my diploma, but with Barnes’ sponsorship, along with M&S management at site level, I am positive I can achieve what is expected of me. I get the feeling this is a real team effort, and you never know, I could be the next one in a long line to be nominated for the Apprentice of the Year Award.”

Photo: Ethan Doman, Mark Hart, Joint MD of Barnes Construction and Gus Cutting, Founder and MD of M&S Contractors.

Photo: credited to Pagepix

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