Park East, Wates

The first apprentices have been hired to help regenerate the Park East site in Erith as Wates Residential supports a further seven people with its Building Futures training programme

The £95m project, which is being delivered by Wates Residential and Orbit, in partnership with the London Borough of Bexley, will deliver 320 new homes in Erith of which 80% will for affordable rent and shared ownership.

As part of the project, the partners have pledged to kick start training opportunities in the area by hiring at least 31 apprentices and at least 25 people in full-time employment from the local area.

The first two apprentices are Sam, 25 from Welling, and Sarah, 21 from Bexley, who both join the project as apprentice demolition operatives with Wates Residential’s site subcontractor – Erith Group. Their responsibilities include removing the internal fittings of the buildings before they are demolished and ensuring the waste materials are properly sorted and recycled.

Sam had previously studied a bricklaying course at Bromley College but decided on a career change soon after finishing his studies. He was encouraged to apply for an apprenticeship by Bexley Mind, who supported him throughout the process.

Commenting on his new role, Sam said: “This apprenticeship has given me a sense of belonging in society. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance to get my career on track and that I am moving in the right direction now.

I love the physical side of my role and the great team that I work with. Everyone at Erith and Wates Residential has been so supportive. The health and safety across the whole Wates site are outstanding and really shows that people care.”

Thanks to his new position working with one of the largest demolition contractors in the world, Sam is now saving for his driving license and aiming to move out of his parents’ home soon.

Describing her role, Sarah said: “I didn’t think I would progress as quickly as I have and feel truly grateful for the opportunity… Everyone on site has been great with me and it has really changed my perceptions as a woman working on a construction site.”

In addition, another of the unique training and employment initiatives that Wates Residential has brought to Erith is its Building Futures programme, which helps unemployed adults gain valuable practical experience and employability coaching to reinvigorate their career prospects.

On Friday 25th, seven students successfully graduated from the course. Their two-week training involved visits to both the West Street and Park East developments to gain hands-on experience of a construction site.

Throughout Phase 1 and 2 of work, seven tower blocks were replaced with 587 medium-rise homes, including 329 homes for affordable rent, 114 for private sale and 144 for shared ownership.

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