Wednesday, September 13th, 2017.

Thomas Young (left) and James Tams (fourth right) ready to start work as apprentices for Keepmoat Homes

Former Excelsior College students James Tams and Thomas Young are taking their first steps into the world of work this week as apprentices with leading UK home builder Keepmoat Homes.

They started as an apprentice bricklayer and joiner respectively working on The Rise development – a  £265m regeneration of the Scotswood area of Newcastle’s west end being led by New Tyne West Development Company – a joint venture comprising Keepmoat, Newcastle City Council and Barratt Homes.

The opportunity to begin their careers with one of the construction industry’s biggest names is the reward for the local lads who worked hard under the guidance of teacher Joe Temple and his team in Excelsior Academy’s Laidlaw Construction Training Centre.

Teachers and specialist trainers deliver two-year City and Guilds Construction Skills courses to Year 12 and 13 Excelsior College students in a bid to give them the best possible start to their working lives.

James and Thomas were inspired to strive for apprenticeships with Keepmoat Homes after a visit by Geoff Scott, Keepmoat Homes’ Community Engagement and Investment Manager.

Geoff said: “When Keepmoat got involved at The Rise we said that we wanted to work with local schools to ensure young people in the area could benefit from the proposed investment. Our work with Excelsior Academy is an excellent example of us delivering on that promise. These students weren’t given an apprenticeship, they have worked hard for it.

“Both James and Thomas have good CVs, they gave good interviews and they are both worthy of their positions on the Scotswood scheme and can look ahead to a bright future in the construction industry.

“The industry is short of skilled tradespeople at the moment. The potential is there for them to be promoted through Keepmoat Homes or through one of the sub-contractor businesses that we work with on site.”

Joe, Excelsior Academy Subject Development Leader of Engineering and Construction, said: “We have made sure there is as much engagement with employers as possible during our construction skills course.

“We worked with the New Tyne West Development Company to make sure our students gained as much experience as possible which prepares them for industry.

“James has a two-year apprenticeship as a bricklayer while Thomas will be working as a carpenter doing site joinery, both for Keepmoat Homes.

“The potential is there that if they do well they will be kept on in full-time employment by the company. It’s testament to their hard work and the suitability of the qualifications that we deliver here that they have seized this opportunity to work for a great company, one of the country’s biggest house builders.”

The first phase of The Rise scheme offers a collection of unique two, three and four bedroom homes in the heart of Newcastle. The eco-friendly designs are built to take advantage of the sloped site, with many properties having stunning views across the River Tyne.

Excelsior Academy sponsor Lord Laidlaw officially opened the Laidlaw Construction Training Centre in the school as part of its ever-growing programme of support to help pupils find their job of choice.

Students are taught brick laying, block work, carpentry and joinery skills which are all in high demand in a fast-growing construction sector.