Two local apprentices working on the construction of Birmingham's Athletes' Village say they are excited by the prospects that their new choice of career could bring.

Nineteen-year-old Jamie Wright, a former labourer at a logistics firm, and 22-year-old Josh Grainger, a former retail assistant, are both halfway through 18-month apprenticeships on the construction site in Perry Barr .

The two signed up as part of the council's apprenticeship drive, which has seen various mechanisms used to provide 50 full-time apprenticeships, £1.28 million worth of training and 1,000 pre-employment training places on the residential element of the Commonwealth Games ' village.

And, speaking at the site, the two said that they cannot wait to complete their apprenticeship and take advantage of the opportunities it presents.

Jamie, left, and Josh at the site of the future Athletes' Village.
Jamie, left, and Josh at the site of the future Athletes' Village.
 

"My dad’s the site manager, and he just got the phone call one day asking ‘does Josh want to go on the apprenticeship with Jamie?’," said Josh.

"So I thought I might as well take it because of all the opportunities it offers. And I’m halfway through now and doing well.

"I’d worked in retail before that on a zero hours contract, which is completely different to demolition. You could come in one day and that would be it, just the one day. Whereas now I’m here six days a week, and I enjoy it.

Enter our new Ladder for Birmingham Apprenticeship Awards 2019

"There’s loads of different opportunities that I could go for. There’s office, there’s machine driving, there’s driving trucks to load machines, so hopefully once my apprenticeship is finished I’ll be able to find a craft.

"And it's exciting being involved with the Commonwealth Games. It’s good because you watch the buildings come down, the new buildings go up, and it’s in Birmingham, it’s where I’m from, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

"It’s good to know that I’m now working toward a good goal, a good career, and a good trade as well. I love it."

Josh, right, and Jamie look over plans for the Athletes' Village.
Josh, right, and Jamie look over plans for the Athletes' Village.
 

While Josh has worked exclusively on the site of the Athletes' Village so far Jamie, from West Bromwich , has been able to split his time between there and the future HS2 site at Curzon Street.

Jamie used to work for a local logistics firm, but found his opportunities limited by his lack of a driving licence, something which restricted the number of hours he would be asked to work each week.

"It wasn't consistent work," he said.

"It was a lot to do with driving and I don’t have that yet. So one week I'd work three days, the next I could not work at all.

"You were always trying to plan and you couldn’t. You try not to make too many plans because the phone could ring and you’d have to be off.

"In this industry there’s a lot of different pathways you can go down. I mean at the end of the apprenticeship you can stay on the tools, or they might offer you to go on a machine, or go in the office, or as a manager, so you’re floating between the two. There’s a few different pathways. And you just want to get there.

"It’s tough because you just want to get to the end, but you’ve got to start somewhere, you’ve got to start from the bottom. You know you’ve go to do the hard work, but I just can’t wait to get on, have conversations with the right people and see what happens, see what opportunities open up once we finish the apprenticeship."

The Athletes Village site in Perry Barr.
The Athletes Village site in Perry Barr.
 

The council says that talks are currently underway to provide another wave of apprenticeships through work on the Alexander Stadium and transport improvements around the area, too.

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council , says that the opportunities being provided to young people is evidence that the Commonwealth Games is about much more than just the Games themselves.

“I’ve always said the Commonwealth Games are much more than just 11 days of great sporting action," he said.

"The employment and skills legacy is one of the ways in which the positive impact will spread far beyond athletic endeavour.

 

“You only need to look at the number of cranes in the sky to see that Birmingham is booming, but the number of apprenticeships in the city have not kept pace with these economic opportunities.

“As a council, we are committed to seeing the number of apprenticeships increase in the whole spectrum of jobs and industries and we are using procurement as a tool to create new apprenticeships through the supply chain and with major employers.

“The Commonwealth Games will improve the lives of individuals who get opportunities to work on the projects supporting the event and the city will benefit long-term from an upskilled workforce so we are ready to deliver on other projects that come our way as a result of the enhanced international profile the Games will give the city and wider West Midlands.”

To learn more about the Ladder for Greater Birmingham campaign to create 1,000 new apprentices visit www.ladderforbirmingham.co.uk and visit www.reachplcevents.com for more details about our Apprenticeship Awards and to enter.