ECO Town apprentices were greeted by Banbury MP Victoria Prentis and Cherwell District Council leader Barry Wood as they visited the site to mark National Apprentice Week.

The 6,000-home development being built in north west Bicester has so far created six shared apprenticeships across various trades such as brick laying and carpentry.

They got the chance to speak to Connor Underwood, a carpentry apprentice and Ricardo Soler De Los Rios, a brickwork apprentice

Lead developer for the site A2Dominion's project director, Steve Hornblow, said: "We were clear from the start that we wanted to offer local people training opportunities or employment, and we’re really pleased to have been able to do that.

"Together we’ve been able to provide an apprenticeship programme for young people that will give them the skills to go on and develop their careers within the industry."

The apprenticeships have been managed by The Apprenticeship and Training Agency set up in Bicester to link people with possible work and training.

The programme was set up by Cherwell District Council, in partnership with A2Dominon Group and Hill Group, to give people the opportunity to learn the skills required to complete a full apprenticeship.

The Apprenticeship and Training Company director Paddy Patterson said: "This is a great example of a local authority working together with a purpose-driven developer to create real apprenticeship opportunities for local trainees in a sector that desperately needs to do more to develop the skilled workforce of the future.

"A lot of organisations talk about this as a priority but don’t follow through. This is real action and standard-setting for the industry."

Following the visit, Banbury MP Victoria Prentis added: "It was a pleasure to meet Ricardo and Connor, who are clearly thriving from their roles and delivering great work on site.

"Apprenticeships provide young people with an opportunity to improve their skills base and get hands on experience of how a business works.

"It is important that we showcase the excellent work that apprentices do and at the same time recognise the work of employers supporting them through their training."

Construction on the next phase of the north west Bicester development begins early this summer with A2Dominion and Crest Nicholson delivering 232 more homes on the site.

Cherwell District Council leader Barry Wood added: "It is extremely satisfying to see our first group of Bicester apprentices undergoing their training during National Apprenticeship Week at the UK’s only eco-town.

"Last year Cherwell District Council took steps to address the skills shortage in the construction industry by helping setting up The Apprenticeship and Training Company.

"It was the culmination of several years’ work by council officers and partners and it’s good to see young people and the construction industry benefitting from it.

"There’s more to do and we’re excited to keep going."