More than 160 turn up to Brighton premises hoping to become 'The Apprentice'

Posted On 11 Aug 2011 at 2:12 am

More than 160 people turned up in response to a Brighton and Hove contractor’s search for “The Apprentice”.

In fact, Mears, the contractor responsible for maintaining and improving 12,000 council houses and flats in Brighton and Hove, is looking for 15 apprentices.

The apprenticeships are in six trades, including carpentry, plumbing and administration, and Mears was delighted with both the number and quality of applicants.

Almost seven in ten of those attending Mears’s apprenticeship open day at Brighton and Hove Housing Centre, in Eastergate Road, off Moulsecoomb Way, Brighton, were aged 16 to 21.

Some were youngsters who have recently been in care.

And about one in ten were women.

Mears boss Gary Lester, who started his career as an apprentice electrician, said: “We’ve got two female apprentices – both plumbers – who are very good role models.”

Mr Lester also said: “We hope to take on almost 10 per cent of those who turned up today.

“If they don’t get offered a position with us, they will be registered with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

“Their details will be shared with other potential employers within the city and across the county.”


Daniel Johnson, the CITB’s construction careers adviser for Sussex and Kent, said: “It’s been a fantastic day for us, working in partnership with Mears and the council.

“What a great turnout from the local community.”

Mr Lester added: “To see so many enthusiastic young people has been a privilege.

“Considering the chaos in other cities, this has been a great day for Brighton and Hove.

“Through today’s event we have been able to really show the opportunities training and apprenticeships can offer to residents of Brighton and Hove.

“We’ve seen an amazing turnout from a diverse range of people and hopefully everyone has found something that has interested them.

“Mears are really committed to building sustainable communities – and apprenticeships play an essential part in this.

“By working with our partners in the city we have been able to introduce them to an amazing group of people who all have something to offer.”

He praised Councillor Bill Randall, who heads the new Green administration running Brighton and Hove City Council.

He said that Councillor Randall, who has had a long interest in housing and apprenticeships, turned up in person to see how the open day was going.


A shortlist is now being drawn up ready for a selection day later this month with the 15 successful candidates due to start in the autumn.

Councillor Randall said: “The open day was a great success, and good news in difficult times.

“The high attendance was a demonstration that most young people want to work and see apprenticeships as a good start to their working life.

“We are supporting Mears in their bid to the Construction Industry Training Board for funding to provide a further 15 apprenticeships for ‘hard to reach’ young people as part of our general work to create more apprenticeships in the city. 

“As I know from talking to young people already working in the Mears scheme, taking up an apprenticeship can be a life-changing experience.

“We are committed to tackling inequality, and through initiatives like this with our city partners we can showcase life-changing opportunities.

“It’s fitting that the apprenticeship open day was run by our housing partner Mears at the new housing centre in Moulsecoomb as this is an area suffering from high unemployment.

“Not only will residents see improved housing repairs services through the new centre, but around 200 apprentices will be taken on over the next ten years under the partnership with Mears.”

The council’s Local Employment Training Scheme joined the CITB with stands at the open day along with City College Brighton and Hove and the GMB trade union.

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