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Luke Chapman of Walker Construction named National Federation of Builders apprentice of the year

By Chris Price

A groundworks and construction apprentice has picked up a national award.

Luke Chapman, who works for Folkestone-based Walker Construction, was named apprentice of the year by the National Federation of Builders.

The 19-year-old from Canterbury will pick up his prize at the upcoming NFB Awards on Tuesday, March 27.

On a teambuilding day at GoApe, from left, Walker Construction apprentices Finley Beadle, Matt Ryan, Luke Chapman, Tom Waklin, southern construction director Martin Watts, site manager Alex Goble, project manager Stuart Caldwell and apprentice Alex Cooke

His accolade was announced early as part of National Apprenticeship Week, which continues until Friday.

Mr Chapman said: “Winning the apprentice of the year means a lot to me because it recognises how much effort and hard work I’m putting into this opportunity.

"It makes me feel like I’m doing really well, so I’m really proud of myself.”

The latest forecast by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) suggests the industry will need to recruit 158,000 construction workers across different trades each year for the next five years.

Although he works full-time on construction sites, every three months Mr Chapman spends two weeks studying at the CITB National Construction College in Birmingham.

Walker Construction built the Memorial Arch in Folkestone unveiled by Prince Harry. Picture: Manu Palomeque/LNP

He began his apprenticeship shortly after meeting a director of Walker Construction whilst working at his old job in a local café.

He said: "We got speaking one day and he invited me for a taster day and I’ve never looked back."

Martin Watts, southern construction director of Walker Construction, which also has an office in Ashford, added: “We’re very excited to be celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with Luke’s success.

"Luke has quickly become a valued member of our team, he has gained respect by working hard and his can do attitude.

"With Luke’s infectious personality and natural leadership ability, we are confident Luke will help us in energising local schools and colleges with regards to all the exciting opportunities available within our industry."

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “There has never been a better time to join the sector, and an apprenticeship is a great route into the industry.

"The current demand for new young workers has never been higher. Apprenticeships are a vital source of talent for the industry.”

The Kick Start Kent campaign aims to create a better environment for employers to hire apprentices and for people to start a career using the route

Find out more apprenticeship news on our Kick Start Kent campaign page

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