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Bricklaying apprenticeship training hub opened by NHBC in Histon





Cambridgeshire’s first “real-life” bricklaying apprenticeship training hub has been opened by the National House Building Council (NHBC).

The new NHBC Apprenticeship Training Hub, located adjacent to Histon Football Club, will start to tackle the large housing skills gap in the industry.

The NHBC Training Hub at Histon Football has been officially opened, trainer Mark Johnson from the NHBC from Cambridge instructs Jennifer Kehoe (left) while other trainees work in the background. Picture: Keith HeppellPicture: Keith Heppell
The NHBC Training Hub at Histon Football has been officially opened, trainer Mark Johnson from the NHBC from Cambridge instructs Jennifer Kehoe (left) while other trainees work in the background. Picture: Keith HeppellPicture: Keith Heppell

Built in partnership with award-winning housebuilder The Hill Group, it will attract apprentices from all backgrounds including school leavers, career changers and women wanting to work in construction.

The apprentices will gain a fast-tracked level 2 apprenticeship in bricklaying within 18 months rather than two and a half years.

Those attending the opening on Friday included Steve Wood, CEO, NHBC, Tom Hill, managing director, The Hill Group, Cllr Anna Smith, deputy mayor of the Cambs & Peterborough Combined Authority, and Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.

The purpose-built training hub in Cambridge will immerse 100 apprentices per year in a realistic working environment to learn their craft and get them ready for life on site. Its dedicated bricklaying tutors are committed to supporting the next generation of house builders, equipping them with the skills to build high-quality new homes.

With four cohort intakes throughout the year, the NHBC Training Hub will train more than 100 apprentices per year. With an initial focus on bricklaying, the purpose-built facility, equipped with classrooms, welfare and catering facilities, will provide apprentices with a realistic working environment.

The NHBC Training Hub at Histon Football has been officially opened, trainer Mark Johnson from the NHBC from Cambridge (back right) watches some of the work been done by trainees. Picture: Keith HeppellPicture: Keith Heppell
The NHBC Training Hub at Histon Football has been officially opened, trainer Mark Johnson from the NHBC from Cambridge (back right) watches some of the work been done by trainees. Picture: Keith HeppellPicture: Keith Heppell

This hub is the third dedicated training facility built by NHBC – the first was launched in Tamworth in 2021 and the second in Newcastle last year. Among those at the Histon launch was Jennifer Kehoe, 40, a former police constable who has swapped a career in the police to take up a Level 2 bricklaying NVQ apprenticeship at NHBC’s Training Hub.

Jennifer said: “I’ve always wanted to be in a trade, but I didn’t know I could do an apprenticeship at my age and to get paid as well was huge for me.

“There’s a perception that apprenticeships are only for school leavers.

“I thought if I’m going to do an apprenticeship, I want to do the most challenging trade and at the same time be a pioneer to break the stereotype of women being brickies and working in construction.

“It’s pretty rare as I’m the only female I’ve met so far on site! But I don’t mind though, it’s about breaking down the barriers and plugging the massive skills gap we face as a country.”

Andy Hill, group chief executive at The Hill Group, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating the official opening of the Cambridge Training Hub which will serve to create a local supply of talent for the construction industry.

The NHBC Training Hub at Histon Football has been officially opened, from left trainer Mark Johnson from the NHBC from Cambridge instructs Jennifer Kehoe while other trainees work in the background. Picture: Keith Heppell
The NHBC Training Hub at Histon Football has been officially opened, from left trainer Mark Johnson from the NHBC from Cambridge instructs Jennifer Kehoe while other trainees work in the background. Picture: Keith Heppell

“I’d like to thank NHBC for choosing Hill as their partner on this exciting venture which will undoubtedly make a positive impact on the lives of the apprentices.

“We look forward to working with many of these talented individuals as they begin their rewarding careers in this fast-paced and ever-evolving industry.”

Since NHBC became a registered apprenticeship provider in 2020, 347 apprentices have progressed through its bricklaying and construction site supervisor programmes.

“The courses have been designed with input from across the industry to ensure they meet the needs of employers and employees alike.”



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