Apprentices speak about their experiences working on the Our Town Hall project

Apprentices working on the project to restore, preserve and enhance Manchester’s iconic Town Hall have been speaking about their experiences.

From early aspirations for careers in the arts, as teachers, actors, doctors and footballers, the young people working in apprenticeships in the Our Town Hall project talk positively and enthusiastically about the experiences and knowledge gained.

As the country marks National Apprentice Week (6-12 February) they have been reflecting on the skills and confidence they have gained.

One of the key objectives of the Our Town Hall project is to deliver economic and social value for Manchester, with the maximum positive impact for residents and businesses and a genuine legacy in skills, experience and inspiration for those considering careers in construction.  

 This is what the apprentices have to say about their roles.

From a beauty therapist in a salon to working in the construction industry, Leah Finch from Blackley made the leap into construction after wanting to expand her career goals and she currently works as an Assistant Construction Manager for Lendlease in the Our Town Hall project.  Her preconceptions of what work in construction was like totally changed when she realised the variety of roles available.

Leah said:  “My first thought was that it would be dusty, dirty, getting muddy, with heavy lifting but it’s not always like that, there are so many roles in construction that you can do whether it is office based, like document control which is what I first wanted to do, or office manager, project manager or quantity surveying but you can also work on site doing the more physical roles like plumbing and bricklaying.”  

She enjoys the responsibilities of the project and the respect from her colleagues and would recommend apprenticeships to everyone.  She continued:  ”It doesn’t matter whether you have just come out of school or whether you have been out of school for a while, apprenticeships are for all age groups, all people of all different backgrounds. The best thing is learning while you are earning.  If you are based on site in construction, or based in office, you can also go to college or university and the best thing is it's all paid for, and you don’t come out with any debts.”  

Growing up wanting to be an artist and studying for a Fine Arts degree, Matthew Baines from Chorlton put his final year on hold and now finds his artistic and creative talents being put to good use working as an apprentice for the Mosaic Restoration Company.  His expectations were surpassed by the role, and he wants to carry on in this type of work in heritage which he found more detailed and intricate than he thought when he first started, Matthew said:  

“It’s great to be involved in such an old building and to know that by the end of it you were part of a project of this scale. I love heritage sites and it’s got a foot in the door for me with the restoration and it’s probably something that I will carry on doing from here on. ”  

 Abdul Tahir from Whalley Range who finished his apprenticeship and found a full-time job working as an Assistant Project Manager for Mace talks about his pride at being a small part of a big project. He said: Working on a mega project, you play a small part but at the end of it you come out and you can say that you worked on it.”  He also talked about the benefits of apprenticeships saying, “they outweigh degrees twofold as there are so many benefits from finance to experience and job security.”  

Elliot Hogan from Moston who was persistent in applying for roles as an apprentice and now works as an Assistant Construction Manager for Lendlease  believes that he has learnt more on the job than he ever would have done in a classroom.  He said “I have met a lot of good people on site, and I’ve learnt a lot from them as well as stuff that I would have never picked up from a textbook or the classroom. I was expecting to do smaller tasks and do basic things, but I’ve been given a lot more than that and not only do you get paid to come to work but you’re also getting an education at the same time.  

 The Our Town Hall project has to date created 139 apprenticeships and propelled the careers of many young people into the construction industry in a variety of roles through this legacy project. It has created 290 resident work placements, 239 new jobs and more than 6,000 volunteer hours on community and charity projects in the city.  

Deputy Council Leader Cllr Luthfur Rahman said:

“This is a huge heritage project and has offered opportunities for people who live in the city to acquire new skills and careers in an industry that they may not have initially thought offered the variety and range of roles that it does.  What comes through loud and clear from all the apprentices is their pride in being involved in a project of such historical importance in their home city as well as the roles and responsibilities and opportunities that have been given to them.  We want to ensure that projects such as this one delivers the maximum benefits to our city and our residents.”  

National Apprenticeship Week runs from 6 – 10 February.  

Watch the Town Hall apprentices speak about their experiences here

For more information on apprenticeships go to

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