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GERMANY BOUND … Walter Thompson Paul Hammerton with the four apprentices

Walter Thompson apprentices to learn new skills in Germany

FOUR apprentices from a leading regional construction company have been chosen to attend a prestigious two-week course to learn about German carpentry techniques.

The four are apprentices at Northallerton-based family firm Walter Thompson and are completing three-year apprenticeships at New College, Durham.

They’ve been chosen to attend the Erasmus EU Mobility Apprentices Programme, which is delivered at Zimmerer-Ausbidungszentrum Training Centre, in Biberach, southern Germany.

“It’s the number one carpentry college in Germany, and one of only five organisations in the country that can fully train apprentices to the Master Carpenter level,” explained Paul Hammerton, Managing Director at Walter Thompson.

“It’s a great opportunity for our apprentices, who were chosen by New College for their ability, commitment and attendance. They’ll learn new construction skills within carpentry and learn how the Germans do things differently in their construction sector – looking at areas like constructing timber frame buildings, insulating buildings, and constructing roofs. They’ll also be using German tools, which will be different to what they are used to.

“These are transferable skills which they will be able to use when they come home and put into practice on site with Walter Thompson, I am also looking forward to visiting the college in Germany to see how our apprentices have got on and see what they have all learnt,” he added.

The four apprentices are all from Northallerton: Andrew Sykes, 18; Harry Cleminson, 18; Tom Cornforth, 23 and Matthew Langthorne, 19. Harry, Tom and Matthew are second year joinery apprentices, while Andrew is a brick-laying apprentice.

A total of 13 students from New College will be on the trip, which begins in early May. While in Germany, the apprentices will stay at a boarding school and visit factories, tool companies and work on a realistic works project.

Matthew said he was looking forward to the trip: “They do things differently in Germany and we’re looking forward to learning about other ways of working and new ways of solving problems.

“We’ll be bringing back the new skills we’ve learned and hopefully use them on the Walter Thompson sites we’re working on in the UK.

“In Germany they train apprentices to Master Carpenter level – something they specialise in at Biberach – so I’ll be interested to see what that entails,” he added.

Two tutors from New College will be accompanying the group. Mark Anderson, Vice Principal Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement at New College, said: “This is such a great opportunity for our apprentices to travel further afield and learn about their chosen sector in a different country.

“The students will benefit from learning new skills, using different equipment, and in a different culture and environment. This type of experience is invaluable to our apprentices; and as a college we’re really proud of our students who represent us on trips such as this.”

Walter Thompson is one of the largest privately-owned construction companies in the north east, undertaking contracts up to a value of £15m across a variety of sectors including: education, health care, leisure, MOD/DE, restoration and retail.

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