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Local teenagers career ahead through Southampton new-build homes programme

Housing developer Lovell is helping three Southampton teenagers build careers in the construction industry working as apprentices on its major housing regeneration programme for Southampton City Council.

Lovell, with housing association First Wessex, is delivering a £30 million regeneration scheme at three Southampton estates. Lovell is creating three brand-new housing developments: Mansfield Park at Exford Avenue, Harefield; Mayflower Mews at Laxton Close, Sholing and Montague Place at Meggeson Avenue, Bitterne Park.

As part of its Lovell Legacy commitment to creating lasting benefits for local neighbourhoods, the company has recruited three teenagers from the city to train through the 221-home new-build programme. Apprentices Flo Stevens, 19, from Millbrook, Michael Polden, 19, from Woolston and Stephen Cross, 18, from Merryoak Green are working on site, supervised by qualified tradespeople and studying at Southampton City College on day release. Flo and Michael are training as carpenters while Stephen is an apprentice bricklayer, with all three working towards nationally-recognised NVQ qualifications in their trades.

Flo is currently based on the housing development under way at Meggeson Avenue, a short distance from her home. Having set her sights on a construction career from an early age (she fitted her family's kitchen as a fifteen-year-old), she was studying for a construction Diploma at Southampton City College when she successfully applied for the apprenticeship with Lovell. With Lovell's support, the teenager is gaining the site experience that will enable her to complete her NVQ Level 2 carpentry qualification and go on to the advanced Level 3 award.

Flo says: "What I like about the job is that there's an end product - you are building an actual house where someone will live. It's challenging too as you have to be absolutely precise in your work. As the homes take shape, I'm looking forward to getting experience of second fix carpentry tasks such as fitting doors and skirting boards." Lovell is keen to encourage more women, who are currently under-represented in the industry - women make up only 11 per cent of the construction workforce - to follow in Flo's footsteps.

Flo, Michael and Stephen will be supported by Lovell throughout their apprenticeships which will enable them to earn as they learn. The company has provided them with site tools and will fund their college courses and travel costs.

Councillor Warwick Payne, Southampton City Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Sustainability, says: "We are committed to providing new jobs within the city and supporting people to train to find jobs that meet their needs. Hearing some of the stories of the apprentices that our developments have enabled is very inspiring, and for them to be contributing to the future success of their city is fantastic. I'm sure we'll see great things from them all; building a brighter future for themselves and Southampton."

Lovell regional director David Gough says: "For us, regeneration is about more than just building new homes. Creating wider benefits for communities through jobs and training opportunities is equally important. Our three apprentices in Southampton have made excellent starts to their training and we look forward to continuing to help them develop their skills as they work with us on this major new-build programme."