Taking on an apprentice helped a Haverhill business grow

Case study: Leighton Symonds with Symtech Plumbing and Heating apprentice Dan Allen

Case study: Leighton Symonds with Symtech Plumbing and Heating apprentice Dan Allen

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As part of ONE Haverhill’s work on the Haverhill Community Budget a new Youth Skills Manager was appointed in 2013 to work with colleges and businesses in the town to set up more apprenticeships and work experience places for our young people. Their goal is to encourage local businesses to take on local home-grown talent and enable more young people to stay in the town by offering apprenticeships. Apprenticeships help young people learn a trade on the job while being paid.

In the countdown to National Apprenticeships Week (March 3 - 7) and the launch of ONE Haverhill’s Keep Young Talent in Haverhill Campaign www.onehaverhill.co.uk/apprenticeships, we take a look at how apprentices are helping Haverhill firms to grow and and the youngsters looking for their first step on the career ladder.

For Symtech plumbing and heating in Haverhill, taking on an apprentice has helped them to grow their relatively new company and plan for the future.

Business partners Leighton Symonds and his brother Danny took on former Castle Manor student Dan Allen, 20, in September after liaising with Haverhill Youth Skills Manager Karen Chapple.

Symtech took advantage of the Government’s apprenticeship grant scheme to help with the costs of taking on an apprentice. The funding will help with Dan’s training and equipment he may need for the job.

Leighton said: “We are a new start up company but have managed to obtain work through various contacts and been able to take on apprentice to help grow the firm in the future.

“Apprenticeships will help grow the economy in the future. Nothing can compare to on the job training and experience. If more Haverhill firms took on an apprentice it would grow the local economy, getting more young people into jobs and helping Haverhill become a better place to live.”

Leighton says the costs of taking on an apprentice has been greatly helped by applying for the Government’s grant scheme in which businesses can apply for £1,500 to assist employers who commit to offering 16-24 year olds employment through an apprenticeships programme. The grant is available until the end of 2014 and companies can take on up to ten apprentices and receive £1,500 per apprentice. The grant is in addition to the training costs of the Apprenticeship which are met in full for young people aged 16 to 18 and 50% for those aged 19 to 24.

For Leighton, who also went to Castle Manor School along with his brother Danny, taking on an apprentice made sense because he was himself once an apprentice.

He said: “I learnt that way and it helped me to gain experience whilst working and earning. I started with my dad when I was 21. My brother Danny and I both did a four year apprenticeship at West Suffolk College and gained our Gas Safe qualification as well as our Level 2 and 3 NVQs. You could say plumbing is in our family as my grandad, cousin, uncle, dad and my brother have been or are plumbers.

“We want Dan to become Gas Safe after the total college period of four years. But in the first two years he will get certificates in plumbing Level 2 NVQ and then progress to Level 3 and eventually Gas Safe.

“My brother Danny and I owe a lot to our dad for giving us our opportunity to do our apprenticeship. Hopefully our experience and knowledge we can pass on to Dan.”

Symtech has been in business for just eight months but in that time the company has secured an ongoing contract as well as other regular business and is now growing steadily.

The company carries out plumbing and heating work from oil to gas, installing, servicing and repairing new gas and oil boilers. They install unvented cylinders and underfloor heating, carry out heating upgrades, power flushing, new heating installations and install new bathrooms/showers and wet rooms. But they also carry out small jobs from moving radiators to changing taps.

For apprentice Dan, who lives in Haverhill, it is a great way to earn and learn on the job. He said: “It will give me the experience I need and I’ll gain a qualification at the end.”

For Symtech taking on an aprentice has been a very positive experience.

Leighton added: “I would encourage other Haverhill businesses to do the same. By creating more apprenticeships in the town I think we will as local businesses be giving our young people a sense that their talent and skills they learnt at school are appreciated and it will help youngsters to be more integrated into society, giving them a sense of worth and achievable goals to strive for.”

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