Two employees at a homes firm swapped roles to see how the other half works

CHANGIN PLACES: Keith Collard, left and Ben Finch. Below, Keith gets stuck in
CHANGIN PLACES: Keith Collard, left and Ben Finch. Below, Keith gets stuck in
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Lancashire apprentice Ben Finch and construction director Keith Collard found out how the other half lives when they swapped jobs for a day for National Apprenticeship Week.

Keith, 52, from Chorley, got the chance to get his hands dirty drilling out joists and fitting pipes as a plumber, while Ben, 17, from Wigan, got suited and booted for a day at the office.

Keith Collard gets stuck in as an 'apprentice'. Redrow

Keith Collard gets stuck in as an 'apprentice'. Redrow

Undertaking such different roles for the day was declared by both Keith and Ben as ‘an eye opener’!

“Being ready to go, full tilt, on site very early in the morning was a bit of a shock to the system,” laughed Keith. “And it took me back to my own site-based days. But it was great to be part of the team, working alongside Ben and some of our subbies.”

Although he has worked his way up to construction director from the grass roots of building and various management positions at Redrow Homes (Lancashire) over the last 32 years, Keith has never been an apprentice.

He got the chance to learn what life is like for them when he spent the day doing second fix plumbing in one of the new Redrow homes at Lucas Green, Whittle-Le-Woods, working alongside Ben and other subbies from the North West contractor Prestige Plumbing.

“Spending time with Ben and seeing his approach to work has really made me appreciate the value of our apprentices,” said Keith, “how much they bring to the business and how much they can promote us to family and friends. Hearing tales from Ben about apprentices he’s met who were unsupported in their work or were only doing it because they didn’t know what else to do, made me realise how good our apprenticeship programme is.

“We have some very committed, hardworking and articulate people like Ben who have a great future in the business. We need to capture more of the Bens in this world and that’s what this year’s recruitment drive is all about.”

Ben was equally impressed.

He said: “I was surprised at how busy Keith was and is,” he said. “A lot of people just assume it’s a straight forward 9-5 job in the office, but his day can be long in different ways. He is out of the office at meetings, seeing people on site, answering the phones, doing the paperwork and keeping a check on everything.”

Although he is currently working at Lucas Green, Ben has worked at a number of developments including Dukes Manor in Walkden, Harbour Village in Fleetwood and The Hedgerows in Clayton-Le-Woods. He is in his second year as an apprentice, employed by Redrow but attached to Prestige during his apprenticeship.

“I always wanted to come out of school and start earning straight away,” said Ben. “But I didn’t want to just get any job, I wanted to learn a trade and so it’s great. The apprenticeship allows me to earn while learning on the job, with support.

“When you are working on site you don’t always know what goes on behind the scenes in the office so it was really interesting to learn at least a part of what Keith does and it made me realise that I’d like to take that route in the future. It’s a natural progression.”