A LEADING regional construction company has launched its own training academy to ensure it has a pipeline of top talent for the future.

Northallerton-based Walter Thompson has provided opportunities for school leavers to enter the building trade for the last 50 years through a successful and well-respected training programme.

Now the company has gone a step further with the launch of the Walter Thompson Training Academy, based at their HQ in High Street, Northallerton. In addition to its traditional apprenticeships in building trades, including groundworks, bricklaying and joinery, the new academy is working with local universities to offer degree apprenticeships in quantity surveying, estimating and modern apprenticeships in business administration.

Paul Hammerton, managing director at Walter Thompson, said: “There is a serious and well-recognised skills shortage within the industry, with many contractors relying on subcontractored labour. Walter Thompson has always taken a different approach, directly training and then employing local people.

“As our investment in the future grows, we thought it was time to expand our training programme further, so have introduced a training academy. It will provide excellent, structured training programmes for our future workforce.

“This year we have provided opportunities for three trade apprentices and one degree apprenticeship and we are extremely proud to have 21 current apprentices at varying levels of their training.”

Leonie Smith, HR and training manager, said: “Any company is only as good as its people. That’s why we believe in providing our team with high quality training to ensure our continuing success.”

“Our commitment to training is not limited to the trades. We actively encourage higher education for our supporting team across many different careers.

“Over the last few years we have seen many developments with regard to the funding of our apprenticeships, we continue to get support through the Construction Industry Training board (CITB) but also now have the Apprenticeship Levy which has allowed us to consider increasing the number of trade apprenticeship and degree apprenticeship opportunities we can offer within the business.”

Earlier this year two Walter Thompson apprentices won their respective categories in the prestigious CITB Skillbuild competition, which was held at Newcastle College. It is a competition that Walter Thompson has had regular success in over recent years.

Mr Hammerton added: “I think our achievements at Skillbuild is evidence of how successful our training programme has been and many of our former apprentices have gone on to progress to senior positions within the company. Our new training academy will now build on those successes and we’re excited about its potential for developing our workforce and company.”

The family-run business, established in 1920, has a workforce of about 250 people.