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From pictured left to right: Operations Team Leader Andy Barnes, James Smith and Repairs Manager Phil Brailsford.

Repairs apprentice nails it, with a little help from his friends

A Derbyshire tradesman has completed an advanced apprenticeship – with a little help from a construction giant.

James Smith, 21, from Langley Mill, Derbyshire, works for Ripley-based Futures Housing Group and was struggling to complete his joinery apprenticeship because he did not have evidence of installing a new roof or fascias.

But his repairs team leader Andy Barnes stepped in to save the day by approaching energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE, the contractor building 58 homes at The Oakes, a Futures development in Leabrooks.

James, who received his Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship in Wood Occupations in February, said: “Thanks to Andy and ENGIE for getting me the experience I needed. I’m really pleased to have finally got this piece of paper – It’s taken me three years.

“It was brilliant to work on the site because I got to work on new builds which I would never normally get to do. It’s good to know that my work will be a part of the community for the future.”

Andy, a team leader in the Futures repairs team, said: “I approached the site manager and asked if they would like some free labour!

“But seriously, I explained that James was looking for opportunities to complete his apprenticeship – which was work we simply couldn’t offer him.

“The site manager was brilliant and offered James a chance to work on the site. They got a cracking worker and James got the evidence he needed to complete his apprenticeship.”

Suki Jandu, the Group’s director of customer service and assets, said: “This is such a fantastic example of how Futures works in partnership with other organisations to give our apprentices every chance of success.

“We have a proud track record of offering apprenticeships in a range of disciplines, from repairs to graphic design.”

Nathan Brough, Regional Director for ENGIE’s Places and Communities division, said: “Here at ENGIE, we are committed to working with our partners to invest in local people wherever possible so that we can nurture and develop the next generation of construction talent.

“Getting a qualification in a trade can lay the foundations for a lifelong career in a great industry, so we are very proud to have played a small part in giving James the experience he required to complete his apprenticeship.”

Futures, which provides around 10,000 homes throughout the East Midlands, is a proud supporter of National Apprenticeship Week.

For more information and to check our latest opportunities, visit

  • Last updated: 27/02/2019

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