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Posted on 9 February 2021

National Apprenticeship Week – Matt Neal success story

This week is National Apprenticeship Week, with the focus this year being the theme of ‘Build the Future: Train, Retain and Achieve’.

A chance for Calico Enterprise to celebrate its success, promote the benefits of apprenticeships and congratulate those that have worked so hard for their success.

Here we focus on a Lancashire lad called Matt Neal and discover his success story…


Collaboration in the construction industry generates apprenticeship opportunities

Calico Enterprise Ltd first established a shared apprenticeship service in 2010 in response to industry demand as a way of providing construction contractors with an opportunity to enjoy all the benefits of an apprentice without the direct employment responsibility.  Constructing the Future (CTF), the project name for the shared apprenticeship service, employs apprentices across the North West and works with contractors who are keen to offer work placements on their construction sites.  It overcomes the barrier of travel to work for young people and helps contractors to provide apprenticeship opportunities for local people when working on short term contracts.

Two such businesses who have been able to benefit from the scheme are Willmott Dixon and one of their groundwork subcontractors, AJ Wood Ltd.  By using the shared apprenticeship service they were able to offer a work placement for a young man called Matthew Neal who was keen learn a trade and develop his career – what they got was an ‘irreplaceable member of the team’.

Matthew was part of the team working on the new Merseyside Police HQ, a £48m project in Liverpool. Willmott Dixon and AJ Wood were committed to providing opportunities for apprentices on this site, so they approached CTF to help.  Jaime Dawson, Senior Build Manager for Wilmott Dixon, said ‘Matthew has not been an add-on, if he hadn’t been here, he would have had to have been replaced. He is very proactive, efficient, and invaluable to the team.  Those qualities are part of the reason he was offered a job by AJ Wood once his apprenticeship was complete.’

As the chosen groundwork’s subcontractor on the project, AJ Wood have supported Matthew to collect his work-based evidence so he can achieve an NVQ level 3 in Construction in the Built Environment.  Jon Duggins, AJ Wood’s site manager, said ‘Matthew has learnt first-hand from both me and Gareth Brooks, the Senior Site Engineer. He’s had a management perspective, such as daily activity briefings, method statements and risk assessments, and a hands-on engineering perspective such as setting out the construction works, drainage, foundations, kerbing and retaining walls.’

Matthew himself has nothing but good things to say about his apprenticeship.  “Being on site every day on such a high-profile project has been priceless. Working with these companies has given me the experience I simply wouldn’t get solely in a classroom. I got a huge amount of support, encouragement, feedback and expert knowledge, and through saving my wages I’ve been able to buy my first car and even insure it and tax it myself’!

Jane Smith, Constructing the Future Manager at Calico Enterprise said, ‘younger people look set to be the hardest hit by the pandemic and apprenticeships are an option many may not have considered before. The shared apprenticeship service makes it really easy for companies to play their part in apprenticeship training without the long-term commitment and employment responsibilities. However, as Matthew’s example has shown, most of our apprentices go on to secure permanent employment within the sector.

Anyone wishing to get more details on Constructing the Future, whether as business or as a young person looking for a placement, should contact Calico Enterprise via their website – or email


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