Apprentices take honours at awards

Phil O'Halloran receives his award from Councillor Jim Smith
Phil O'Halloran receives his award from Councillor Jim Smith

Apprentices from across North Lanarkshire have been honoured at a special ceremony held in Motherwell Theatre.

The Mears Apprentice of the Year Awards were attended by an audience of 140 young trainees, their parents, Mears executives and trainers, councillors and officials.

Mears currently employs 74 young apprentices, funded through the North Lanarkshire’s Working Youth Investment Programme, in construction and office skills including plastering, joinery and electrical training.

In its latest intake, 19 young people have signed up for four-year apprenticeships.

North Lanarkshire Council leader Councillor Jim McCabe reaffirmed the council’s commitment to training.

He said: “The council work in close partnership with Mears and their dedication to developing the apprenticeship programme has been brilliant.

“Becoming an apprentice gives young people a great chance to build skills, confidence and secure future employment.

“The council is fully committed to this programme and in 2012 we invested £15 million our Youth Investment Programme to help support 5000 people into work over a three year period.

“We are now over half way through the third year and we have supported 4,570 into work.

“We are at 91 per cent of our target with six months to go. We did this working in partnership with over 800 local employers, using the North Lanarkshire’s Working recruitment portal.

“The council is 100 per cent committed to supporting young people and to the success of the Youth Investment Programme. Recently we committed a further £1.7m to the programme to run to the end of 2016.

“We are not just about putting unemployed people into any job, it’s about getting them into the right job for them and getting accredited training and a job.

“This is why the Mears apprenticeships we support every year through our Youth Investment Programme are so important.

“As well as the valuable contribution that Mears make to apprentices, over 50 per cent of the jobs that the Council support are apprenticeships.

“We are investing in our young people for the future, it’s about the long term.

“We know the construction industry is not performing as well as it did years ago, but it will come good again, and we will be ready for the challenge.”

During the award ceremony, each of the 19 new apprentices was presented with a basic toolset by Eddie Hernon Managing Director, Buildbase.

2013/14 apprentice awards results are as follows—

Mentor of the Year -

Phil Halloran from Motherwell was presented with his award by North Lanarkshire Council depute leader Councillor Jim Smith who said: “Phil is very popular among the apprentices and many of them had great things to say about him.”

One apprentice commented: “He has not only shown me his professional expertise in the trade but the fundamentals of working life.

“He has patience and understands that as an apprentice you are not going to get everything right first time but if you try hard enough you will succeed.”

Apprentice of the year: 1st Year -

Apprentice electrician Derek Brownlie (24) from Wishaw was presented with his award by Housing and Social Work services convener Councillor Sam Love.

Councillor Love said: “Derek is eager to learn from his peers and in doing so carries out his duties to a high standard.

“He has grown in confidence, and his skills with his tools are exceptional. He asks the correct questions and takes on board the answers.”

Apprentice of the year: 2nd year -

Apprentice joiner Declan Grant (20) from Airdrie received his award from Regeneration and Infrastructure Convener Councillor David Fagan.

Councillor Fagan said: “This apprentice has grown in confidence over the past year with excellent site and college reviews. His communication with other trades and tenants during his working day is exceptional with a strong working ethos. He produces work to a very high standard.”

Apprentice of the year: 3rd year -

Apprentice plasterer Jonathan Ryan (25) from Holytown was presented with his award by Councillor Tom Curley.

Councillor Curley said: “Jonathon’s mentor speaks very highly of him, saying he is meticulous in carrying out any type of work and completes all tasks to the highest standard. He has an outstanding practical ability and a positive attitude and produces excellent work throughout. He is a very hard working and reliable individual and happy to carry out any given task to a high level with a positive attitude.”

Apprentice of the year -

Apprentice heating engineer David Locke (21) from Coatbridge, was presented with his award by Council Leader, Councillor Jim McCabe who said: “David represented the college at the BEST awards which involves a written selection test before the top candidates move forward to attend a one day practical test being selected as one of the top two students.

“Since the start of his apprenticeship David has had nothing but glowing reviews from both site and college. He shows maturity, self confidence and is well grounded. With his interest, attitude and aptitude he will become a very good engineer and an asset to Mears.”

Following the ceremony David said: “I am delighted at the award. I decided to take on this apprenticeship for a very simple reason … I like fixing things and thought I was quite good at it.”

Two further awards were made during the evening to Shelly Bruin and Daniel Rafferty for completing Modern Apprenticeships.

In addition the Community Project of The Year, presented by Councillor McCabe, went to St Andrew’s Hospice for its Light Up a Life festive fundraising appeal.