Mr Jayawardena met staff from RW Armstrong at one of its two specialist joinery workshops in a site visit organised by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

RW Armstrong, founded over 50 years ago, specialises in the renovation, extension and refurbishment of period and country homes.

The firm has a proud record of supporting apprentices, having taken on promising young people for more than 40 years. 
It currently has seven apprentices training with a new intake every year comprising carpenters, bench joiners, decorators and bricklayers. In total, there are 19 members of staff across its two workshops in the North Hampshire area.

Mr Jayawardena was given a background to the firm by Simon Lewis, managing director, before undertaking a guided tour by workshop supervisor Kevin Fraser.

During the visit Mr Jayawardena offered his support to CITB’s ‘I’m Backing Apprenticeships campaign’, which encourages young people to consider a career in construction.

Mr Jayawardena had the opportunity to meet and discuss such opportunities with, Reece Hodge and Joe James, two apprentices based at the workshop.

Mr Jayawardena said: “It is wonderful to hear that businesses in the area such as RW Armstrong are engaged with the community and can offer their support in training the next generation of construction workers.

“There are so many high quality, skilled jobs in this sector and apprenticeships in this region can provide an ideal pathway for employers and employees alike.

“Increasing the number of construction apprentices is incredibly important to the local industry and I will continue working with CITB in advocating apprenticeships.”

Simon Lewis, managing director of RW Armstrong, added: “I hope Mr Jayawardena thoroughly enjoyed his visit and it’s brilliant to know that a respected local figure is supporting the future of apprenticeships.”

Gillian Cain, regional delivery manager for CITB in the South East, commented: “Construction apprenticeships provide a wide range of exciting opportunities for young people in Basingstoke.

With over 230,000 new construction jobs to be created in the UK over the next five years, I hope Mr Jayawardena visit will encourage more employers in Hampshire to support apprenticeships and help develop the industry’s future workforce.”

Anyone looking to take up a career in construction should visit www.goconstruct.org.uk, which has information on over 130 different careers in the construction industry.