Somerset’s Joe Stradling has won the prestigious title of Redland Apprentice of the Year against stiff competition as one of ten of the country’s best roofing apprentices.
In a West Country double, Cornishman Tom Knight was awarded Highly Commended, a category created to acknowledge how close he was to the top award.
Joe, who works West Country Tiling in Frome, has won a £1,000 cash prize to invest in the future, the title of Redland Apprentice of the Year 2017; together with a trophy, and a lifetime supply of free-of-charge courses at the Redland National Training Centre.
Both Joe and Tom found the competition not only challenging but also rewarding, introducing them to another side of the industry.
“The competition was really good but it wasn’t what I’d expected and took me and everyone else out of our comfort zone,” commented Joe, while Tom could see it furthering their careers in the long term. “It really boosted my confidence and taught me skills that I would need to run my own business, presentation particularly,” he said.
As Joe’s tutor, Alan King of NCC South points out, the competition was not simply to reward roofing skills but also to highlight the industry’s future leaders and entrepreneurs.
“This fantastic initiative wasn’t a skills test but was about the lads applying themselves and learning to present themselves as young businessmen,” he said. “I saw lads that were shy to begin with but by the end they were confident enough to give a 10 minute presentation in front of a room full of people they’d never met before.”
Joe and Tom are the cream of a crop chosen from building colleges throughout England and Wales, from County Durham to Truro and from Tonypandy to Chelmsford. And they come from all manner of backgrounds, proving the attractions of a skilled trade in construction.
The competition is part of a strategy by Redland – the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of pitched roof systems – to address the challenges faced by the industry in meeting the ambitious Government housing targets. The sector must recruit 700,000 more people to replace those retiring or moving on, plus an extra 120,000 if the government’s aim to build one million new homes by 2020 is to be achieved.
“We recognise the need to ensure new joiners to the industry receive the necessary levels of support that they need to develop and succeed which is why we launched this programme,” commented David Patrick, Redland’s Head of Marketing.
The final took place over two days – 27th and 28th June – at the Redland National Training Centre. Finalists will receive professional coaching on all aspects of running a roofing business – including business planning, presentation skills, and technical skills – before being assessed, making this a complete learning experience.
A selection of leading figures in the roofing industry judged the candidates and participated in “knowledge-sharing sessions” over the course of the two days. In these the apprentices put questions to the panel, enabling the judges to this next generation of roofers the benefit of their experience.
“The knowledge sharing session was very useful too, and I learnt a lot from being able to ask questions about how to run your own business and listening to the others asking questions that I hadn’t thought of,” thought Tom.
Tutor Alan Lander of the South West Roof Training Group further said that the competition is the first of its kind in the roofing sector and a real boost to the contestants.
“The competition itself was brilliant and it really stretched the lads – you could actually see them growing. This is typical of the investment that the company makes in our industry,” he commented. “We really couldn’t deliver the training that we do without Redland’s support, it’s priceless.”
The competition peaked with the Apprentice of the Year Awards Dinner – consisting of the 10 finalists, their tutors and employers, and judges.
The other eight finalists in the Redland Apprentice of the Year competition were:
For more information and a video recap follow the link: https://redland.co.uk/apprentice-of-the-year-2017
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