I became involved with the Prince's Foundation programme after an architect I worked with told me about the Building Skills Apprenticeship. I was looking to further my knowledge of traditional building techniques and wanted to gain some more experience of different plastering methods.
I support the programme because of the unique opportunities it offers the apprentices to undertake placements with established companies and learn from experienced craftspeople. The live build is a project that progresses from the initial design, all the way through to building something which communities will be able to enjoy for years. Teaching the apprentices how to parget has enabled me to pass on my knowledge of traditional crafts and I have been thrilled with their enthusiasm to learn new techniques.
Personally, I believe that apprenticeships are invaluable to the industry. We need skilled labour in this country and the best way to learn these skills is not through reading books, but by actually doing. The knowledge that you can gain from someone who has been in the trade for years and the experience you can get working alongside established companies or individuals is priceless.
Schemes, such as the Prince's Foundation programme, are worthwhile and enable investment in future skilled tradesmen. With support for these schemes from big companies, like Dulux Trade, I hope that others will follow suit. The Prince's Foundation for Building Community is giving people with an interest in the built environment a chance to develop themselves, while teaching the importance of using good design and the correct materials, which are appropriate and sustainable for their surroundings.