How Flagship's innovative college link is building tomorrow's tradespeople

West Suffolk College

West Suffolk College construction students say thanks to Flagship for their ongoing support. Picture: WSC

Housing provider Flagship Group first teamed up with Bury St Edmunds-based West Suffolk College in 2021 to provide its students with work experience, health and safety qualifications and help with CVs and interviews.

The partnership has also seen thousands of pounds in building supplies and construction PPE donated through Flagship’s Travis Perkins CSR fund – most recently a £4,428 delivery of copper pipe, bricks and other items towards the end of 2023.

Nadine Tapp, head of the Flagship Group Academy, said: “We formed a partnership with West Suffolk College to establish a true employer-educational model designed to increase talent coming into the sector, mitigating the risk of future skills shortages.

“We’ve been delighted with the success of the collaboration, which provides an entry route to apprenticeship opportunities at Flagship Services and Gasway”.

West Suffolk College apprentices

West Suffolk College building and construction students Rhys Snelling, left, and Matt Rowe working with materials that have been provided by Flagship. Picture: WSC

Thanks to the partnership, Flagship won an Outstanding Apprenticeship Employer Award at this year’s Eastern Education Group Apprentice of The Year Awards.

Elina Kolosova, 19, from Bury, is a level two multi-trade student at the college. She said: “The support we get from Flagship is amazing. With the materials we get, we can do so much more. It’s massive and helps prepare us for the workplace.”


Elina Kolosova, 19, is a level 2 multi-trades student at West Suffolk College. Photo: WSC

Classmate Bailey Woolnough, 18, from Walsham-le-Willows, added: “The fact that [Flagship] has employed over 20 students from the college means it is an important link up.”

Dale Potter, course director, said: “The partnership has been brilliant and helps give our students a more rounded education by getting to work with these amazing materials.

“Support like this has a massive impact on student retention and it gives them a ready-made route into an apprenticeship. It’s absolutely superb and I’d like to say thank you to Flagship Group.”

Ms Tapp said Flagship’s apprenticeship programme was nationally recognised and had supported almost 300 apprentices since it was established in 2013.

She said over 78% of Flagship apprentices completed their programme - 24% more than the national average.

To find out more about apprenticeships at Flagship Group, visit


West Suffolk College students Bailey Woolnough, 18, left, and Aaron Peacock, 17, making use of donated materials. Photo: Flagship Group