Entrepreneur Steve Willis, who launched Brickwork Services in 2005, took matters into his own hands when he was faced with a chronic shortage of skilled bricklayers.
This led to Willis setting up sister company Pro-active Safety to provide consultancy services and training opportunities in bricklaying, scaffolding and general construction.
Now, a £50,000 unsecured loan from UK Steel Enterprise, the Tata Steel business support subsidiary, is helping Pro-active Safety to expand.
The second centre has welcomed its first batch of trainees and expects to cater for 200 apprentices during 2016, as well as a further 90 general operative trainees.
Willis said: “It was frustrating to find ourselves turning away lucrative contracts because of the shortage of skilled bricklayers.
“So we decided to do something about it ourselves and Pro-active Safety works in partnership with training organisations such as NCT Training and, recently, the Profound Group at Peterlee.
“It’s been hard work but is paying dividends for everyone. We have companies providing invaluable work-based placements for our trainees which improves our success rate, links to schools to offer vocational training and we have also created more than 25 full time posts for tutors.”
Sarah Thorpe, of UK Steel Enterprise, added: “Steve has decades of invaluable experience in the construction industry and our confidence in his companies has been more than justified.
“Brickwork Services works with a growing number of blue-chip companies and Pro-active Safety is helping to solve a serious skills shortage and provide opportunities for young people in our steel areas to gain recognised qualifications and a career for life.”