A group of students studying bricklaying at East Durham College are set to get a fantastic opportunity to hone their skills, thanks to an exciting new partnership with Ajay Brickwork Ltd which will offer apprenticeships to the students from the Peterlee-based college.

After recently visiting the college and having a number of students on work placement, Ajay Brickwork were so impressed with the work ethic and skills of the students they offered apprenticeships to Stuart Bush and Mark Walton, both aged 17 and from Houghton le Spring, James Anderson, aged 18 from Wingate, and to Charlotte Lloyd aged 18 and also from Houghton le Spring – who will officially become their first-ever female bricklaying apprentice.

Speaking about the partnership, Keith Jenkins, Contracts Manager at Ajay Brickwork, said: “East Durham College and Ajay Brickwork recognise that the future success of the construction industry lies in the hands of young people who undergo apprenticeships and bring the necessary skills and enthusiasm to our construction sites now and in the future.

“We are delighted to have joined into this new phase of our partnership with the College to help train young people as apprentice bricklayers.  We make every effort to then employ them on our sites, where they get the chance to continue to develop their skills and perfect their trade.”

Ajay Brickwork already employs 14 apprentices and will offer the group of four the opportunity to work at various sites around the North East. But Charlotte will be the first-ever female brickie apprentice they have employed.

Keith added: “We were really impressed with all four students, but it was particularly great to see Charlotte’s work, drive, enthusiasm and determination to become a great bricklayer and this made it really easy for us to decide to offer her the chance she so clearly craves too.

“Charlotte is our first female apprentice and she will be heading to the Gentoo Homes Churchfields site at Doxford Park, under the watchful, but supportive, eyes of Gentoo Homes Site Manager, Lynne Hicks, and Contract Manager, Melissa Watson who, like us, believe the construction industry is a great career for both young men and women. They have been key supporters of bringing more women into the industry and employing them on Gentoo Homes sites.”

Although traditionally a male-dominated industry, more and more women every year are expressing an interest in studying trades such as bricklaying, engineering, painting and decorating, joinery and other construction-related disciplines.

East Durham College’s apprenticeship team are thrilled to be working alongside Ajay Brickwork to further develop the careers and progression opportunities of our students.

Hayley Clifton, from the apprenticeship team at East Durham College, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for all of the students who were offered apprenticeships. Getting real-life work experience is vital for growing your career and this partnership with Ajay will ensure that the students are getting just that.

“We are excited about continuing our partnership in the future to offer more apprenticeships to more students, both male and female, who are interested in a career in the construction industry.”

East Durham College’s bricklaying courses are taught at its Willerby Grove campus in Peterlee. Students are taught in a purpose-built, large-size bricklaying workshop with access to all materials needed, under the guidance of expert bricklaying tutors. For more information on these courses, please click here: https://www.eastdurham.ac.uk/brickwork_courses

The college’s apprenticeship service works with a wide variety of employers from across the region to offer apprenticeships to both existing students and those interested from the wider area. Please click here for more information about East Durham College’s apprenticeship service: https://www.eastdurham.ac.uk/apprenticeships