Kicking off a career with an apprenticeship is a great way to get a head start in the field you want to work in. We meet Woodberry Down’s ambitious young apprentices to learn about the skills they’re developing, what they like about the local area, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
Since construction began at Woodberry Down 2009, local apprentices have been heavily involved, learning trades and ploughing the experience they acquire back into the project. Using locals ensures that young people who have lived their whole lives in the neighbourhood have a part to play in shaping its future. As many as 42 apprentices have worked on the site at any one time, with many of them coming through K10, an Apprenticeship Training Agency. Berkeley Graduate Site Manager Eóin Hickey says, “Our aim is to have thirty per cent local labour working on site, with at least one apprentice for every trade.” We meet five young apprentices working in key roles across the development.
Shoreditch’s Keiran Coffey avoided the call of a career as a barista that his surname surely cried out for, and instead went to college to study civil engineering. He didn’t enjoy it, though. “I prefer more physical work,” he says, “so I thought I’d give carpentry a go, and it just took off from there really.” Kieran, who is nineteen, started his apprenticeship in April 2015 and joined the Woodberry Down team in November of that year. He cites his apprenticeship as not only giving him the practical skills to be a carpenter, but also improving his general confidence. As for his new workplace, he says, “I like what it’s come from. It used to be this run-down estate, and now it’s this really massive up-and-coming area.”
“I studied carpentry at college,” twenty-four-year-old Claptonite Ryan Christie says, “and then a friend recommended the K10 scheme.” He has been on the scheme for 18 months now, which has allowed him to continue his classroom studies one day a week. The time he spends in the site office has allowed him to improve his paperwork skills, and he really likes how friendly all of the people he works with are. “Even the management,” he says with a smile. Ryan is a couple of months from completing his apprenticeship, so what next? While working up in the sky on the twenty-fourth floor of the Skyline tower, Ryan makes clear that this isn’t the limit for him as he says, “I’d like to be manager one day.”
Sasha Goredama started her career in nursing, but soon realised it wasn’t for her. She joined Ways into Work, Hackney Council’s free recruitment service, which helped her become an apprentice receptionist at the Berkeley office in March 2015, where she has been able to grow. “My communication skills have improved a lot,” she says, “and my organisational skills too.” Having lived in nearby Clapton all her life, one of her favourite parts of her job is to see the changing landscape of the area first-hand. “I like the diversity of the area, and looking at the different developments that Berkeley build,” she says. But, of course, it’s not all work and no play, as she adds with a smile: “There have been a lot of new shops springing up too.”
Arjun Singh has his sights firmly set on becoming a plumber. He loves the nitty gritty of the work, bending pipes and soldering, and has been an apprentice for around a year. His skills have already improved greatly – “I’m good at the basics of the trade now,” he says – and he spends one day of his working week at City of Westminster College, where he is able to acquire some classroom learning on top of his on-site experience. Arjun used to live in Hackney, and he likes the busy, people-filled exuberance of the borough, but it’s when talking about the responsive, ever-changing nature of his job that he becomes animated. “Call outs are my favourite,” he says. “When people move in to the flats and have problems, we’ll go round there and sort it out for them.”
Electrician apprentice Anthony Haran lives down the road in Stamford Hill, where he grew up. He knows the area well. “It’s a nice place to live, although it can be quiet sometimes…” he says, laughing, as if a little quiet in the middle of London could be a bad thing. Anthony has been on the scheme for six months, and, like the rest of the site apprentices, he spends a day a week at college, in his case at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London in Tottenham. While the photographer takes his picture he quips, “It’s nice to have the morning to concentrate on my modelling,” but make no mistake, he has entrepreneurial ambitions worthy of one of Alan Sugar’s apprentices too. “I want to start my own business eventually,” he says.