CRAFT APPRENTICES “KEY IN” TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Apprentices working for Durham University’s estates directorate have been handed the “key” to new computer and software equipment to support their training – thanks to the city’s freemen.
Craft apprentices have played a vital and unbroken role within the city’s commercial heart since the 14thcentury and a £700 donation from the freemen’s eight surviving craft guilds underlines their pledge to continue the proud tradition.
The university’s estates and facilities directorate employs maintenance staff including joiners, electricians, mechanical plumbers, painters, general builders, gardeners and botanical gardeners – among them six apprentices.
The new equipment will be available specifically for apprentices within the first stage of a training unit currently being developed in Green Lane.
David Profit, the university’s senior maintenance services manager, said: “Not everyone has easy access to specialist computer equipment outside of work or a suitable space at home in which to study. The freemen’s gift fills that gap and allows us to provide the space and time for apprentices to enhance their studies within an allocated room in the new training unit.
“In the face of the current shortage of trades and skills, training is vitally important and we would not have been able to move as quickly as we have without the freemen’s generosity.”
John Booth, chairman of wardens of the freemen’s eight guilds said: “Freemen always placed great value on apprenticeship training, not least because it guaranteed commercial survival by maintain high standards of craftsmanship delivered at a fair price.
“It also ensured the continuation of the freemen’s guilds – not least because anyone completing an apprenticeship within the city’s boundaries was eligible for membership. That is still one of the qualifications to this day and we are determined to maintain it.”
The university recently recruited more than 20 new apprentices, across finance, gardening, joinery, IT, catering and administration and, with support from the Apprenticeship Levy, is funding high-quality training for them to ensure a sustainable skilled workforce.