The Kier Highways Area 3 team has welcomed six new apprentices, following a partnership with Fareham College in Hampshire. The partnership saw the launch of a bespoke traineeship programme, which provided young people with on the job experience and the opportunity to gain an apprenticeship on the Area 3 contract.

The seven-week traineeship included four weeks of learning at college, followed by three weeks of work experience. In the first four weeks trainees were provided with health and safety training, alongside practical knowledge which provided the trainees with a solid foundation and the skills required to commence their three weeks of work experience.

The traineeship was offered with the potential to progress to an 18-month apprenticeship in highways maintenance operations. The aim of the programme was to provide the trainees with the best platform to start their apprenticeship, making them exceptionally well-trained highways maintenance operatives with the ability to execute practical tasks in various conditions, locations, times of day and will develop a high level of safety awareness and understanding of environmental control.

Trainees were taught at Fareham College’s award-winning training facility which has a purpose-built mock construction site that allows trainees and apprentices to learn the essentials of the trade. There are also classrooms where the relevant theory to support practical training is taught.

Kevin Cotterell, general manager of Area 3, has this to say about the scheme: “After receiving feedback not only from previous apprentices but also existing workforce, it was clear that we needed to adapt and innovate the way we encourage and develop new people to our industry, we have been able to work very closely with Fareham Collage in adapting and tailoring a programme that will allow the best opportunities for both trainee and business.

“This scheme helps us to address the skills shortages in our industry by training and developing talented individuals. During a period of uncertainty and high unemployment, it is a great opportunity to develop their CV’s and provide them with an exciting career.

Will Heward, a Kier Highways Area 3 apprentice who went through the traineeship, said: “I really enjoyed my traineeship, not only did I gain a lot of useful qualifications and skills, it has been a lot of fun too. My instructor is excellent and there’s a great camaraderie among the trainees. I was very pleased to be offered an apprenticeship with Kier and I’m looking forward to learning more and progressing though the programme.”

Director of Fareham College’s Centre of Excellence for Engineering, Manufacturing and Advanced Skills Training (CEMAST) and Civil Engineering Training Centre (CETC), David Richardson adds: “We are delighted to be working with Kier Highways to deliver apprenticeship provision for their Area 3 contract. Fareham College’s CETC campus has been built in partnership with the Solent Civil Engineering Employer Group to support the construction industry and fill the widening skills gap in this industry. We are delighted to offer young people a real insight into life as an HMO and if successful, it is a great opportunity to progress onto the Level 2 Highway Maintenance Operative Standard Apprenticeship.”

Kier Highways provides all routine and response maintenance, incident response, defect rectification and severe weather delivery on the strategic road network within Area 3, which covers Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and parts of Buckinghamshire.