A Lancashire construction and civil engineering contractor has helped boost its workforce thanks to a funded business support programme designed to help the county’s businesses recruit staff and achieve growth.

Chorley-based Matthews and Leigh Civil Engineering, which carries out groundwork for new housing developments, has taken on 10 apprentices as a result of Access to Employment (AtoE).

AtoE provides Lancashire businesses with access to potential candidates to help support business objectives and achieve growth, in addition to pre-employment training. It is delivered through the Lancashire Employment and Skills Executive Partnership’s (LESEP) network of partners located across the county.

Used as one method of recruitment at Matthews and Leigh, candidates receive pre-employment training, delivered by AtoE partner Matthews and Leigh Training, the sister company of the construction firm.

The five-week course provides candidates with an introduction to the construction industry, an insight into health and safety, including gaining a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, an overview of key employability skills needed, including timekeeping, teamwork, communication and site expectations and a three-week work placement.

Those suitable progress onto the apprenticeship programme. They spend four days a week gaining practical experience onsite at Matthews and Leigh and one day per week at Preston’s College.

Karen Cushion, training manager at Matthews and Leigh, said: “As a construction company, we often find it difficult to find people with the right skills. We use AtoE as a recruitment tool to address this by bringing new people into the industry to develop their skills and our future skilled workers.

“Previously, we have encountered problems with people not being fully prepared for the world of work they’re about to step into.

“We wanted to remove the barriers for people who want to get into the construction industry and the pre-employment training was the perfect way to do this.

“Putting candidates through the pre-employment training is a good way of us identifying people who are genuinely interested in construction and are committed to developing a career so they are more likely to become a reliable, skilled member of staff. It also gives candidates a taste of the industry so they can make informed choices.

“I would absolutely recommend Access to Employment to other businesses and we are looking forward to seeing apprentices progress and build their careers with us.

“For those who don’t feel the industry or the apprenticeship programme is right for them following the training, we feel it is better all round that they have been able to make an informed decision about their future. They still gain a good insight into health and safety, a CSCS card and crucial employability skills so they can go on more prepared to find the right career path for them.”

LESEP secured £6.7million in November 2016 from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and European Social Fund (ESF) to deliver AtoE through its delivery partner network.

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