Merchant apprenticeship builds on family tradition for Joshua

Merchant apprenticeship builds on family tradition for Joshua

In the coastal resort town of Clacton-On-Sea, 19-year-old Joshua Purcell is following three generations of his family into the construction industry by undertaking a merchanting apprenticeship with Silverton Builders Merchants and the support of NMBS.

With his great uncle, uncle and cousins all plying their trade in the industry, Joshua learned from their experiences that a career in construction was more suited to him as a person than other options. He explained: “Since school, I’ve been interested in going into construction, and with my family’s strong background in the industry, it has given me a better understanding of what I’d like to do and where I’d like to go with it.”

Moreover, while many of his peers may be heading to university, Joshua has a different perspective: “I do not believe university genuinely sets you up for life, yet I’m willing to be proven wrong. The fact that you get both experience and a qualification – with none of the huge student debt that university graduates often get – makes an apprenticeship worth doing.”

Accordingly, and with the helpful advice from his family members – who predominantly work in the scaffolding and roofing sectors – Joshua’s journey into the industry began in earnest this September when he joined Silverton Builders Merchants at its head office based in Kirby Le Soken as an apprentice.

Working across a variety of roles, from sales and customer service to stocking up building materials and managing inventory, Joshua’s knowledge of Silverton’s business operations is growing, and so is his confidence.

He said: “I’ve been involved with sales and now have a wider understanding of construction materials and what they’re used for – including products I didn’t even know existed. I’ve also gained an understanding of the Kerridge system used to manage transactions, and I believe I’m getting better at conversing with customers and steadily building up my confidence in doing so.”

Plugging the construction sector skills gap

Joshua is one of many apprentices in England who are following programs with specialist apprenticeship provider LEAP. NMBS is working with LEAP to train scores of builders’ merchant apprentices each year to help address the skills gap in the construction sector.

Tim Dawson, Area Manager at Silverton Builders Merchants, oversees the company’s apprenticeship program and is enthusiastic about nurturing young talent. He revealed: “Here at Silverton, we feel that training young people through apprenticeship schemes such as ours is fundamental to the ongoing development plans of our company.

“We’ve been running our apprenticeship programme for over five years now and in that time, we’ve had a succession of successful candidates who have not only gained valuable experience in the construction sector but have started to forge a successful career within our industry.”

After completing his apprenticeship, Joshua will continue to benefit from Silverton’s targeted training that is aimed at growing his expertise in customer service and recognising sales opportunities.

For its part, NMBS continues to encourage more of its members to use the apprenticeship programme delivered by LEAP to recruit new staff into their business or upskill existing staff. The organisation has now successfully delivered a campaign to recruit 60 apprentices this year to coincide with its 60th anniversary, and is also supporting the Builders Merchants Federation’s (BMF) pledge to achieve 15,000 apprentices across the BMF membership by 2030.

Chris Hayward, CEO of NMBS (pictured below), commented: “We are proud to support young individuals like Joshua, who bring enthusiasm and dedication to the construction sector. Their success is a testament to the value of apprenticeships and the pivotal role they play in addressing the skills gap and shaping the industry’s future.”

19-year-old Joshua Purcell is following three generations of his family into construction by undertaking a merchanting apprenticeship with Silverton Builders Merchants and the support of NMBS.

Looking ahead

Joshua’s journey in the construction industry may have only just begun, but there’s no mistaking his conviction that he made the right decision to embark on an apprenticeship, and that a career in the construction industry is more than a family tradition – it is his calling.

“I’m interested in staying with Silverton after my apprenticeship is over, but as it is early days I’ll need some time to reflect and figure out my further goals,” says Joshua. “Personally, this is the most satisfied I’ve been within education and employment since I started working.”

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