Manchester Airport’s Transformation Programme (MAN-TP) has taken on its 150th apprentice, meaning it will smash the target set at the start of the £1bn project.

The milestone was reached ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, which takes place from 3rd – 7th February 2020. The government-backed event aims to raise awareness of apprenticeships and vocational education opportunities across the country.

James Heslop, 19, who grew up in Wythenshawe, is the latest recruit to start their career on the project, which is the largest investment ever made in Manchester Airport’s history.

MAN-TP will totally transform the UK’s third largest airport, bringing major improvements to the customer experience in the process. It will increase the capacity of Terminal Two by around 150% and deliver a range of new shops and restaurants, creating thousands of jobs in the process. The first phase opened last year, and this summer will see the new terminal extension open.

James secured his new role as a Trainee Construction Manager through a partnership between the Airport, construction partner Laing O’Rourke and the University of Salford.

Following his father into a career in construction was always James’ dream, and having enjoyed a week’s work experience at the Airport while still studying at Loreto College and later at Openshaw College, he found the opportunity to combine the two was too good for him to pass up.

He said: “After finishing my A-Levels, I had wanted to join Laing O’Rourke’s school and college leavers programme and I jumped at the chance to work on the Airport’s transformation scheme. There were other placements on offer, but I knew this was the one I wanted. It has been great so far, you learn new things every day and I’m getting really good practical experience to go alongside my studies at Salford.”

James will complete a five-year course with the University of Salford as a participant on Laing O’Rourke’s early talent programme, studying one day per week and spending the other four days working at the Airport site. He will gain a debt-free bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and will be mentored by experienced colleagues who will support his professional growth.

He is the 150th apprentice to join MAN-TP, with apprentices in more than 35 different trades having started work on the project. Enrolled apprentices are working in areas including civil engineering, plumbing, quantity surveying, shuttering and formwork carpentry, carrying out their studies at institutions across the region such as Manchester College, Trafford College, Salford University and the University of Bolton.

Manchester Airport CEO Andrew Cowan, who started his career as an apprentice electrical engineer, said: “We are thrilled James has found an opportunity that is the right fit for him and wish him every success as he embarks on his chosen career, starting with the opportunity to help build the future of Manchester Airport. Leaving a lasting legacy was key to our £1bn transformation programme, so it’s great to have now helped 150 people like James take their first step on the career ladder. We’re incredibly proud to have reached that milestone and it demonstrates the palpable benefits of this project in creating new employment opportunities for local people. We would like to thank Laing O’Rourke and our partner universities for their dedication to achieving this vision. As well as seeing us employ our 150th apprentice on site, this year will also see the opening of the terminal extension in the summer. A pivotal moment in the Transformation Project, the terminal extension will make use of the latest technology and offer a host of new food, beverage and retail units.”

Gareth Jacques, Laing O’Rourke’s project director, said: “When we began construction, we set ambitious targets to leave a positive and lasting legacy within the local area, so it’s fantastic to see the project celebrate taking on its 150th apprentice. Part of the pride our team feels in delivering a project of national significance is in giving early talent the opportunity to forge a career in what I consider to be an extremely exciting industry. I welcome James on board and look forward to seeing him, and all the others become the talented construction leaders of the future.”

The airport’s £1bn Transformation Programme offers substantial apprenticeship opportunities but if construction isn’t for you, there are a range of other apprenticeships across the airport site. Apprentices are currently employed in several teams at the airport, from HR and Digital Marketing to Project Controls.

For more information about career opportunities at Manchester Airport and the wider Manchester Airports Group (MAG), visit careers.magairports.com.

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