Buxton and Leek College Principal Len Tildsley swapped his mortar board for a hard hat to work on a building site for the day as part of National Apprenticeship Week.
Len worked with Trinity Renovations, a specialist restoration company who are taking one of the College’s students on as an apprentice, as they bring the Crescent back to its former glory.
He saw how young people can train for their careers while earning money and gaining nationally recognised qualifications.
Trinity’s managing director Kieran Croughan and former apprentice himself, took Len under his wing.
He said: “It’s the only way to do it – construction is an industry which can only be picked up by experience.”
“We take two apprentices a year, and the first we ever took on is now a site manager for us. We promote from within because the skills we teach are a broad spectrum of 200 year-old methods through to modern techniques.”
Restoring historic buildings is more than just a business to Kieran, who is a member of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings.
He said: “The Crescent was built by local people, so it is right that local people should be restoring it now.”
Principal Len said: “What we are trying to do in National Apprenticeship Week is to encourage young people to choose technical or vocational options as an alternative to doing A Levels.”
To make the job swap fair, one of the Buxton and Leek apprentices took over Len’s job for the day.
Simeon Griffiths-Gray, who works in the offices at the Staffordshire Moorlands and High Peak local authority Alliance, sat at Len’s desk to see how a principal runs a busy college of further education.
He said: “It was weird to be in such a different position, seeing the other side of being a student,”
Simeon, who attended meetings and visited classrooms, said the swap was very insightful.
His apprenticeship within the Alliance’s finance and audit department is opening up a wide range of career options.
He said: “There are so many opportunities.”
The tenth National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2017) brought together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the success of apprenticeships over the last decade and will seek to encourage even more people to choose apprenticeships as a fast-track to a great career.