HARD work has paid off for a pair of young apprentices who are keeping vital skills alive in Sheffield.
Teenagers Jack Smedley and Joshua Askew narrowly missed out on being named best in the region for their work on the new Leeds Arena, less than a year into their first jobs.
The pair were taken on by metalworkers Dearneside Fabrications, Wallace Road, Parkwood Springs, last July as part of Sheffield Council’s Apprentice Challenge.
The scheme, which works in partnership with The Star, aims to help out-of-work young people, aged 16 to 18, on to the career ladder by part-subsidising the wage of an apprentice.
The small team of 86 employees at Dearneside seized the chance to take on two young people to ensure the future of the firm.
Jack, aged 17, of Oughtibridge has been taken on as a trainee plater, while 16-year-old Joshua, of Fulwood has been learning the ropes of the life of a draughtsman in the drawing offices of the business.
Simon Hill, health and safety officer at Dearnside, said: “It’s difficult because we’ve got an ageing skill base.
“There aren’t as many firms around like us as there were.
“Our managing director took the decision we were going to take on apprentices as he was one himself.
“Getting involved with the council has helped us – it is harder for smaller businesses to take on apprentices because there’s a higher risk.
“Jack and Josh both left school wanting to work, but there aren’t as many jobs or apprenticeship opportunities out there these days.
“They have both helped to contribute to Leeds Arena, which was a £1million project for us. We’ve done all the staircases and stair rails and they’ve been involved with designing and building them.”
Both Joshua and Jack were put forward for the Leeds Apprenticeship Awards in recognition of their part in building the venue.
Their success coincides with National Apprentice Week this week.