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Aspiring plasterer bags apprenticeship after impressing on St Helens Crematorium refurbishment

A young aspiring plasterer from St Helens has secured an apprenticeship after impressing bosses on a £3.4m project.

Pic of Mark Owen Crem apprentice

Article date: 7 June 2022

A young aspiring plasterer from St Helens has secured an apprenticeship after impressing bosses on a £3.4m project. 

Through St Helens Borough Council's Ways to Work programme - which he heard about through Universal Credit while looking for construction jobs in the area - Mark Owen from Eccleston was offered a six-month contract to work as a labourer for Seddon Construction, the contractor that oversaw the recent modernisation of St Helens Crematorium. 

Carrying out duties such as assisting trades and keeping the site clean, Mark - who studied tiling and plastering as St Helens College - was even given the chance to try his hand at plastering which has led to the 22-year-old securing a plastering apprenticeship with Seddon for this August. 

"Ways to Work was a good opportunity to get on a site - especially one on such a big scale - and see the different aspects of work carried out, particularly plastering as it's something I've always wanted to do," said Mark. 

"I received so much support and It was great to be around so many skilled people who I got to learn from - and even got to do a bit of plastering myself which was brilliant." 

Mark added: "St Helens Crematorium is such an important asset and being local to the area, I'll often pass it now it's complete and feel a sense of pride that I worked on such a big project which has set me up nicely for my apprenticeship which I can't wait to start." 

Encouraging people who are out of work and are looking for employment or training opportunities to seek support though the Ways to Work programme, Mark said: "It's worth doing - I've had to show a lot of patience to get an opportunity like this in what I wanted to do, so when it comes up, I think people need to take it.  It's a really good path to what you want to do for a career." 

Commenting on Mark's positive attitude and determination to succeed, Seddon Site Manager Jeff Wallace said: "Mark is very enthusiastic and is keen to learn. He has come out of his shell in such a short space of time and we are really impressed with his attitude to learning and how much his confidence has grown."

Mark Haycock, Seddon Assistant Site Manager added: "Mark's confidence has grown considerably since he started with us, and this shows in the quality of his work.  He has shown a keen interest in plastering, this is something that he would like to look to pursue and I am really pleased that he has secured an apprentice place here at Seddon".

Praising Mark and the impact of the Ways to Work initiative - which since 2016 has supported more than 1300 people into employment, training, and education - Councillor Kate Groucutt, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Economy, Business and Skills, said:  

"As a council we are committed to helping local people into the employment and training opportunities generated through major investment projects and the future regeneration schemes across the Borough. It's great to hear the positive feedback on our Ways to Work service, with Mark the latest success story on how the service is helping change lives. 

"The team are ready to work with even more people like Mark to help them develop new skills and achieve their true potential, so if you - or someone you know - would benefit from this programme, please get in touch and the team would be more than happy to help."  

Ways to Work is designed to improve personal resilience and progress to sustainable employment for people over the age of 16 who are signed up to the programme which is part-funded by the European Social Fund and Youth Employment Initiative Funding.  

You can register by emailing waystowork@sthelens.gov.uk, calling 01744 676131 - or by visiting two dedicated Ways to Work Centre's, located in Church Square Shopping Centre, St Helens Town Centre, and Bridge Street, Earlestown. 

For more information, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/waystowork