ARCHITECTURAL hardware specialists, Washington & Riley is collaborating with Stoke on Trent College to provide free learning resources for its construction students. The Burslem-based firm has donated door hardware, including hinges, handles and locks, to promote a real-life learning environment.
In addition to stocking door hardware, Washington & Riley supplies, installs and maintains fire doors and was the first UK company to gain certification as a BlueSky installer. The donated hardware allows students to learn and craft their skills in hanging commercial fire doors.
Jason Thompson, sales director at Washington & Riley, believes there is an increasing demand for skilled trades people in the West Midlands: “We’ve witnessed growth in the construction and building services industry, but there is a skills gap. It’s our hope that donating industry-standard hardware will help to train the next generation of highly skilled carpenters and joiners.”
In addition to donating their stock, the management team has committed to offering work placements to the college’s carpentry and joinery students. This year, four students completed 30-hour placements, working alongside the firm’s fitting teams.
Rob Wilton, team leader for Construction and Building & Engineering Services (BES) at Stoke on Trent College, explained: “The donation has provided our students with first-hand experience of using quality, industry-standard ironmongery. It’s an opportunity only made economically viable because of our partnership with Washington & Riley. The collaboration also helps us to promote to our students the value and benefit of supporting local independent business.
“Several of our students have also benefited from work placements at Washington & Riley. The experience has provided our students with a greater understanding of the industry and equipped them with work-ready skills such as communicating with others and being part of a team. It’s also helped to put what they’ve learnt at college into perspective, making it more meaningful and motivating them to see the benefits of learning, in readiness for their progression to the workplace.”
Stoke College student Rosa Crutchley, from Baddeley Green, has just completed level two in carpentry and joinery, including a work placement at Washington & Riley. The 18-year-old added: “I learnt a lot from working with the fitting team, including how to mark out properly. During my placement week I made radiator covers, fixed a door frame, fitted a work surface and hung a door.
“Being able to put what I’ve learnt at college into practice was really good. I got on well with everyone and it’s given me the confidence boost to continue learning and to find work in the joinery industry.”
Jason and his partners plan to continue their partnership with the college, supporting its construction courses with any further hardware needs, and continuing to provide its students with valuable work placements.