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Keystone Group Brands Sustain ‘Mentor Me’ Support For Young Bricklayers

Keystone Group brands Keystone Lintels and Keyfix are delighted to continue their innovative sponsorship programme to support the training and development of apprentice bricklayers for a second year in partnership with masonry contractor Lyons & Annoot.

The Mentor Me initiative is a professional development scheme run by specialist brickwork contractor Lyons & Annoot, who had the honour of being listed as one of the Top 50 SME Apprentices Employers in England in 2023. The intention behind Mentor Me is to provide a range of theoretical and practical learning opportunities in specialisms where apprentices would be utilising the modern masonry solutions offered by Keyfix and Keystone Lintels. 

At present, Lyons & Annoot employ six first year apprentices, five second year apprentices (ensuring a retention rate of 86% with the help of Mentor Me), and four apprentices in their third year who are currently preparing for their End Point Assessments. Impressively, this represents a retention rate of 67% from this year’s group far in excess of industry standards with the help of Mentor Me. 

Through their endorsement of the Mentor Me apprentice program, Keyfix and Keystone Lintels are actively addressing the pressing need to recruit the next generation of bricklayers. This initiative is a proactive step in meeting the future construction demands in the UK, such as the government’s target of a 50% reduction in the overall time from inception to completion for newbuild and refurbished assets.

John Duffin, Managing Director at Keyfix, said: “Mentor Me is a very detailed training programme. It covers a wide range of masonry building skills and techniques that are relevant to products produced by Keyfix and Keystone Lintels. Ensuring apprentices are well catered for as part of the learning process, as well as making sure they are well looked after, will be key to keeping them on board with the programme. This is something Lyons & Annoot has achieved over the years, which is why they have such good trainee retainment. It all points towards the Mentor Me programme, which we’re delighted to sponsor, becoming a great success.”

Keystone Lintels’ Managing Director, Derrick McFarland, is as equally as enthusiastic about the programme’s success, commenting: “We’re delighted to offer our support to Lyons & Annoot’s superb apprentice scheme,” he said. “It’s becoming of us all in the bricklaying industry to do what we can to attract a new generation of skilled workers into the sector – the country’s future building plans depend on them. We hope apprentices will make the very most of the Mentor Me programme, and hope many more trainees follow in their footsteps. It’s an excellent path to a successful career in bricklaying.”

The training programme comprises modules in modern masonry techniques, in addition to modules covering products used by Lyons & Annoot on site. For example, apprentices have the opportunity to gain practical experience using contemporary brickwork systems supplied by Keyfix and Keystone Lintels such as non-combustible cavity trays, Hi-Therm + lintels, windposts and non-combustible retaining discs, all of which are designed to improve a building’s safety without compromising on aesthetics.

In addition to receiving informative demonstrations about the usage and advantages of each masonry-based product at Keystone’s Regional Centre of Excellence in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, and the Building Crafts College in Stratford, East London, Mentor Me apprentices have access to a variety of tailored webinars to suit their learning needs. These webinars encompass topics such as a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) session on ‘Addressing the Non-Combustible Challenge’ featuring Keyfix Cavity Trays, and a course inspired by Keystone Lintels titled ‘Innovations in Lintels and Thermal Bridging’. Both companies generously supply complimentary products for each training module, including samples of Keystone’s high-performance Hi-Therm+ Lintel range, Keyslip brick features, non-combustible trays, and stainless-steel weeps.

The companies also provide apprentices with branded merchandise, uniform and other accessories such as essential tools and tool bags, ensuring trainees are fully-equipped to make the most of their training experience. Lyons & Annoot offers a two-year apprenticeship program open to trainees of all skill levels. Upon successful completion of the program, candidates will attain the equivalent of a Level 2 NVQ qualification, providing a valuable and recognised foundation for their budding bricklaying careers. Currently, the company employs six second-year apprentices and seven first-year apprentices.

Commenting on the Mentor Me programme April Lyons, Health and Safety Manager at Lyons & Annoot, said: “It’s fantastic that Keyfix and Keystone Lintels are supporting the training programme, which we’re sure will help further develop the bricklaying skills of our young apprentices. With the assistance of The Keystone Group and their valuable support of Mentor Me many of our other supply partners are also providing factory visits and CPDs to our apprenticeship groups – especially in low carbon elements.”

“Programmes such as this are crucial for advancing our trainees’ careers and improving future building standards. We thank both companies for their generous sponsorship of our Mentor Me initiative. In time, it’s hoped the scheme will expand and attract a greater intake of apprentices for the long-term benefit of the construction industry and our future built environment.”

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