The construction industry has received a huge boost after Willmott Dixon’s repairs and maintenance company said it is taking on 21 apprentices this year across nine different locations in the UK.

Willmott Dixon Partnerships will train the new apprentices, who will learn trades such as carpentry, plumbing and building maintenance, as part of its commitment to skills development. The company provides support services to more than 150,000 homes.

This year’s intake of new apprentices has doubled that employed in 2011 and will mean the company has 61 apprentices on its books, a major investment in skills development while the construction market continues to struggle from reduced work volumes.

Willmott Dixon Partnerships managing director Mick Williamson says, “We want to attract new people into the construction and maintenance industries through our apprenticeships and unique Opening Doors programme, a work experience initiative benefiting hundreds of people across the country. It gives them lifelong skills to boost our economy and provides our sector with a platform for when the market recovers.”

Apprentice trades being offered by the company include plumbing, electrical, carpentry, bricklaying and plastering. Those on the apprentice scheme will work with the company for between one and four years to obtain qualifications through a mix of on and off the job training at local colleges.

Apprentices are also offered training to become company ‘Construction Ambassadors’, working with schools and youth centres to inform young people about the routes into the construction and maintenance industry and help them to understand the benefits of having a trade qualification.

This includes the attainment of professional qualifications and membership of professional organisations, such as the Chartered Institute of Building and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Matthew Morrell, 17 from High Wycombe, has joined Willmott Dixon Partnerships on its contract with The Guinness Partnership as an apprentice plumber. He will be studying at college for one day a week and working on site for the other four.

Matthew said: "I was originally studying a course in animal care at a local college when my mum became ill and I couldn't complete my studies. My dad was a dryliner and my mum was really keen for me to go in the same way as my dad and learn a trade. When she passed away I guess I wanted to make her wish come true and do something that I know would have made her so proud.

"I guess it was fate as it was actually a text that came through to my mum's phone telling of the opportunities at Willmott Dixon. I applied and was over the moon once I learnt that I had been successful. I love learning new things every day and it's great to be able to meet tenants and help solve problems within their homes. I am working with my mentor and other members of the team and already I am trusted to do the job - knowing I have their support means a lot.

"Working with a company like Willmott Dixon is great and I am looking forward to the opportunities it will bring once I finish my apprenticeship."

Mick Williamson continued: “It’s about leaving a lasting legacy in the communities where we work – and this includes helping to improve employability skills among individuals. Our apprenticeship programme allows people to gain access to training so that they can learn the skills that will make a difference to our economy. We are committed to lifelong learning and all of our staff are encouraged to undertake continuous development, for the success of our business and ultimately the organisations we are working with. Of our 1600 staff, 164 of those not in apprenticeships are currently studying for an NVQ - which speaks volumes for the training investment we make into our staff.

“We believe that our apprentices are the greatest ambassadors for our company and will help support and grow the business in the future.”