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Next generation training

Next generation training

30/10/2007 | Channel: Materials

Stephen Gardner urges employers to recognise the benefits Apprenticeships can have on their businesses

Skills shortages are a big issue within the UK. In order to remain competitive on the global economic landscape, more individuals within England need to be attracted to working in the construction industry.

Some 2.12 million people currently work in construction, yet the percentage of employers training within this sector is lower than in other industries; 58 per cent compared to an average of 65 per cent. With a record demand for new build homes, the construction industry needs skilled employees more than ever. In order to do this, construction companies need to realise the benefits of training. By taking on apprentices, employers can plan for future skills requirements, ensuring that skills critical to their company’s success are harnessed and nurtured.

BENEFITS TO BUSINESS
Leeds-based NG Bailey, the UK’s largest building services provider, is an excellent example of how Apprenticeships have benefited a business. The company has trained 373 apprentices over the past five years, and currently has 322 on board - 11 per cent of the company’s total workforce. They are spread across electrical installation, heating and ventilation, and building frameworks.

The company’s Apprenticeship programme has been an integral part of the company culture since its introduction in 1934. NG Bailey has more than 500 former apprentices among its staff, many in management and senior level positions. The
company’s Apprenticeship programme is well known in the sector, and receives on average 4000 applications for the 80 to 100 apprentice places it offers each year.

Craig Hambling Ltd is also a prime example of how a company can benefit from this form of training. It has an excellent staff retention rate, which the company attributes to its Apprenticeship programme. An impressive 90 per cent of apprentices remain in full time employment with the company after completing their Apprenticeships.

Larger firms are not the only ones to benefit from Apprenticeships. Oldhambased Dave Luck Limited - a painting and decorating business, employs 44 staff, a quarter of whom have either completed or are on an Apprenticeship. Denise Luck, director of Dave Luck Limited, is committed to see that all employees’ training needs are met both through training on the job and learning new skills at college. This means they have young employees, eager to learn, and injecting enthusiasm and energy into the business.

A further example of the business benefits of Apprenticeships is DG Shuttleworth, a Lancashire-based plumbing and heating company, which employs just two full time members of staff. Both started out as apprentices and have trained over the past five
years.

Managing director, David Shuttleworth relies on word of mouth and repeat custom for his trade. He recognises that professionalism, high quality workmanship and good customer services are essential to retaining clients in an extremely competitive sector. Therefore he is hugely appreciative of the impact this has had on his business. “Through Apprenticeships I now have two fantastic employees with a thorough understanding of my business and its goals.”

David’s dedication doesn’t stop there. “I have always paid a competitive wage to my apprentices and at the end of the day I know I have made a sound investment. My apprentices have brought back new skills learnt from their training provider, Accrington and Rotheringdale College, and remained with me beyond their Apprenticeship. This has really added value to my business.”

BENEFITS TO THE INDIVIDUAL
Individuals also reap the benefits of Apprenticeships. For instance Christopher Gary Taylor, 21, is one of Dave Luck Limited’s success stories. “My Apprenticeship has helped me become more confident and knowledgeable within my field. It has been such an achievement for me to reach a stage where I can supervise staff, meet deadlines, produce work of a high standard, and train and develop other apprentices.”

Christopher was recently promoted to site foreman. He continues: “Assuming the role of foreman has boosted my confidence, and helped me to improve my communication, team work and leadership skills.”

Denise Luck said: “Christopher has worked extremely hard and has built up a good rapport with his team and demonstrated they can deliver ahead of schedule, which has resulted in an increase in repeat business for the company. He has an excellent management style that has resulted in lower staff absenteeism.”

Both Christopher Gary Taylor and Dave Luck Limited have been nominated for awards at the National Apprenticeship Awards, an event held by the Learning and Skills Council to recognise the achievements of employers Apprenticeship programmes and the apprentices themselves.

Another example of an individual who has gained a huge amount of value from an Apprenticeship is 23- year old Gareth Moor. He was recently honoured with the title of Advanced Apprentice of the Year 2007 at the Learning and Skills Council's national Apprenticeship Awards in June.

In September 2003, Gareth began his Advanced Apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering at Dougal and Railton, a medium sized electrical engineering company. He instantly became a crucial member of his employer's team. He made huge progress in a very short period of time, and was promoted to site foreman an impressive two years into his training.

Gareth says: “One of the main benefits of doing an Apprenticeship has been the ongoing training I have received at college and at work. Being continually exposed to different teams and various projects at work has taught me much more than I would have learnt if I didn’t have on-the-job training. It has allowed me to improve my communication skills, and develop working relationships with colleagues at all levels of the company.”

The benefits of Apprenticeships on the individual can also be seen in Charlotte Bettis, 21, a painting and decorating apprentice at Westridge Construction Ltd. Charlotte says: “My Apprenticeship with a local construction company enabled me to learn, work, gain experience and practical skills, get qualified and earn all at the same time. The

Apprenticeship encompassed college and work-based learning. At the end of my Apprenticeship I gained a full-time permanent job and a promising career in construction with no debt hangover.” Apprenticeships enable businesses to have the right people, with the right skills, at the right time.

In short,  Apprenticeships result in:
  • Increased productivity - Apprentices at Metsec Plc, an engineering firm, helped increase capacity ten fold between 1997 and 2006.
  • Increased retention- Slack & Parr is a company which designs and manufactures metering pumps and ancillary equipment for producing man-made fibres. Nearly half (48 per cent) of the company's workforce have been apprentice trained, and one in seven (16 per cent) now hold senior positions.
  • Apprentices enable companies to remain competitive - Kessler's Ltd, leading designers and manufacturers of Point of Purchase display and merchandising, say Apprenticeships help the company retain its edge as a flexible and cost effective quality manufacturer, essential for its survival in a competitive marketplace.
  • Apprentices embrace new technology and ideas - The apprentices Blue Flame Engineering Ltd recruit are the lifeblood of new ideas and technical competencies for the future of the company.
  • Employee satisfaction - Owner of Blue Flame Stuart Eakins says: “I started Blue Flame as a small one-man semi retirement business two years ago. It seemed logical at the outset to take on an apprentice to benefit from my engineering experience, so I approached Stockport College. Since then, the business has enjoyed stunning growth as our joint enthusiasm triggered a chain reaction that means three of my five-man team are apprentices, with a stake in the business.”
  • Today more than 130,000 businesses employ 250,000 apprentices in England alone. Furthermore, employers gain a highly motivated and loyal workforce that helps boost productivity and make a positive difference to their business, and individuals improve their skills and career prospects whilst continuing to learn and earn a wage.
As director of Apprenticeships for the Learning and Skills Council and an exengineering apprentice myself, I would urge employers to offer Apprenticeships if they don't already, or to improve and expand their current offering if they do. With thousands of young people now considering what path to take, this is the perfect opportunity to find out what Apprenticeships can do for your business.

Stephen Gardner is director of apprenticeships at the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

For more information on Apprenticeships visit: www.apprenticeships.org.uk
or call 08000 150 400