From the ground: Building products manufacturer commits to apprenticeships to develop talent

From the ground: Building products manufacturer commits to apprenticeships to develop talent

To mark this year’s National Apprenticeship Week (7th to 13th February), Northampton-based building products manufacturer Forterra is showcasing three of its apprentices to illustrate the value and range of on-the-job training and the company’s commitment to developing new and existing talent.

Since it was established in 2016, Forterra has taken on 79 apprentices with several more due to enrol by the end of the year. It firmly believes apprenticeships are a great route into a career in industry, as the successes of its apprentices are testament to. However, the company has also recognised that apprenticeships are a valuable tool in helping existing employees’ to develop their career aspirations.

As a member of the 5% Club, Forterra has committed to 5% of its workforce being in ‘earn and learn’ positions by 2025. Currently, 53 Forterra employees are on apprenticeships, ranging from Level 3 to Level 7, in disciplines such as Civil Engineering, Surveying, Business Administration, Customer Service, Leadership and Engineering.

Michelle Francis, Head of Talent Management for Forterra said, “We hire new apprentices each year, but we also encourage existing staff onto apprenticeship programmes to support succession planning.

“Already approximately 3% of our workforce is in on-the-job training so we’re well on the way to meeting, and likely beating, the 5% target. 

“We believe in continuous learning and invest in our employees at any age. Without a doubt it’s good for our business and good for our employees.”

Among Forterra’s current apprentices are:

Matthew Lardner

Career development was the reason why 32-year-old Production Manager Matthew decided to undertake a Level 5 apprenticeship in Leadership and Management with Make UK. His course is all distance learning, which he balances with his day-to-day responsibilities on site.

Inspired by his father who worked for Forterra for 22 years before retiring last year, Matthew is hungry to gain new skills and is willing to work hard in order to succeed.

He said, “I learnt early on in life that to do well you have to put the effort in. I’ve worked for Forterra for seven years and have recently been promoted to Production Manager. My job is very demanding but I really welcome the chance to continually push myself through learning. My advice to anyone is to grab all the opportunities you can.”

Copyright Mike Sewell 2022 3rd February 2022. Pictured at the Forterra works in Measham is Production manager Matthew Lardner. Matthew is doing his level 7 management and leadership apprenticeship. (Commissioned by Hannah Elwell – Unsworth Sugden)

Ollie Michalski

19-year-old Ollie from Leicester is undertaking a Level 4 HNC in Surveying at Nottingham College. He joined Forterra last October and is currently working at its Hoveringham and Measham sites four days a week, with one day a week spent studying at college. 

After deciding a career in his A-Level subjects, Economics and Politics, wasn’t for him, he started to look at alternative routes to industry and an apprenticeship seemed like the ideal choice.

He said, “Earning and learning at the same time made perfect sense to me. A family friend suggested I might be quite good at surveying. I think I have the right kind of personality for it; I’m chatty, I can be up front and feel I can get my point of view across and stay firm when I need to! I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Copyright Mike Sewell 2022 3rd February 2022. Pictured at the Forterra works in Measham is apprentice surveyor Ollie Michalski. (Commissioned by Hannah Elwell – Unsworth Sugden)

Jessica Tadman

Following the completion of her GCSEs, 17-year-old Jessica Tadman, from Peterborough, joined Forterra in summer 2021 as Customer Service Apprentice at Forterra’s Kings Dyke works in Whittlesey.

The Level 3 course is being provided via Intec Business College entirely online. Jessica spends a day a week in the office studying and the rest of the time putting her learnings into practice working as a Customer Service Specialist.

She said, “Before I started my apprenticeship, I was actually attending sixth form. After the first lockdown I quickly realised it wasn’t for me – I wanted a full time job and to start earning my own money.

“I believe this role is going to better equip me for the future. I’m gaining valuable experience and getting paid to do it.”

Jessica Tadman

For details of career opportunities at Forterra visit: