Sofa so good for Welsh students on leading furniture apprenticeship

STUDENT apprentices are putting the finishing touches to a successful training scheme with a leading furnituremaker.

Over past months, six youngsters from Coleg Cambria have been working at Westbridge Furniture in Deeside as part of the Level 2 Upholstery Apprenticeship programme.

At the end of a two-month placement, applicants aged 16-18 years old will progress onto the full two-year initiative if successful, with a guaranteed job with the company from day one.

Among the Cambria students to join the business were Kieron Lockett, Connor Wilks and Dion Evans, who have been helping to make chairs, beds and sofas for global names including IKEA, John Lewis and M&S.

They say the apprenticeship programme has given them a firm foundation on which to build future careers.

Dion, whose father has worked in furniture repairs for more than 15 years, says the opportunity to follow in his footsteps was one he could not pass up.

“I used to help my Dad when I was younger and always really enjoyed it, so when the chance to work with furniture while earning a wage and getting an education was put to me it was an easy decision,” said the 17 year-old, a former pupil at Mold Alun School.

“I am enjoying the job and the academic side and would encourage others to do an apprenticeship with Westbridge. It gives you independence and helps you stand on your own two feet.”

Kyle, 18, a former pupil at Flint High School, added: “I have family working here so that helped me settle when I arrived. I’ve really enjoyed the academic side but also getting hands-on and helping to make the furniture.

“It’s hard work but that’s good because it’s given us a taste of what it’s like to have a proper job and is a stepping stone to a future career in this industry or something similar.

“The apprenticeship with Westbridge Furniture has certainly been a good base and I’ve already encouraged other people to enrol.”

Learners spend up to eight weeks at Cambria’s Deeside site as part of the traineeship scheme, where they are taught basic employability skills such as timekeeping, teamwork and health and safety.

The following four weeks are spent on work placement at the Deeside factory, one of Westbridge Furniture’s three UK production sites manufacturing in excess of 10,000 pieces of upholstery per week.

Nicola Gaughran, Deputy Director of Employability and Foundation Skills at Coleg Cambria, said the project has proven popular.

“Westbridge Furniture is a brilliant local company operating on the national stage, and that’s a big selling point for future apprentices,” she said.

“The pay is also above the average for an apprenticeship and more than the minimum wage, so I would urge more teenagers in the region to explore this opportunity via Coleg Cambria.”

Westbridge’s HR Manager Nick Arundell hopes to see more students on the production line in the coming months and says there is demand for workers in the sector.

“The apprentices from Cambria have done very well and become important members of the team at Deeside,” he said.

“We are looking for enthusiastic and hard-working youngsters who want to join our growing company – if that’s you then get in touch.”

For more on the range of traineeships, apprenticeships and courses at Coleg Cambria, email or call 01978 267472.


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