More and more companies announce apprentice schemes

Willmott Dixon looks to boost apprentice numbersAt last the construction industry seems to have woken up to the severe skill shortage that will slow down any attempt to increase new builds and infrastructure developments.  Amey announced  a  promise to provide 1,000 apprenticeships over the next 4 yeasrs.  Wilmott Dixon has just announced that it is seeking to boost its apprentice provision by 31% over the next year.

Plant hire company, A-Plant, is planning the largest ever intake of apprentices on the company’s Apprenticeship Scheme this year. In September, A-Plant will be recruiting 150 new apprentices across its business, which will bring the total number of A-Plant apprentices to over 250.

A-Plant’s Head of Training Bob Harper said:

“Apprentices are the vital next generation of A-Plant and they enable us to gear our business up for the future, whilst providing employment and progression opportunities for young people across the country. Our structured Apprenticeship Scheme combines class-based learning with practical learning, including a great deal of time spent within the business learning how to put new skills to real use. Our investment in Apprentices has never been higher; in 2014, we invested over £800,000 in the recruitment and training of Apprentices and we anticipate that our investment this year will be in excess of £1 million.”

Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) Director General, Nick Baveystock, said:

“Apprenticeships have received strong cross-party support, however more needs to be done to increase the quality – not just the quantity – of apprenticeships and those on the schemes should have the opportunity to go on and gain professional qualifications at the end, setting them up for careers in their chosen fields.

“The UK can only thrive if it has a vibrant, technically and intellectually proficient workforce and the next government must place this at the heart of their economic growth policies. Support for the ‘Trailblazer’ scheme – where groups of employers club together to set up apprenticeship schemes tailored to the needs of business – should continue and government must also take steps to ensure schools communicate the wide range of STEM career paths available, including apprenticeships.”

Wolseley - Euro TrucksWolseley UK, the UK’s largest distributor of plumbing and heating products, has also launched an apprenticeship scheme for LGV drivers, the first of its kind in the industry.

The salaried scheme, which includes a training package worth £7,000, begins in April and lasts for a year.  Successful apprentices will graduate with a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Driving Goods Vehicles, a C+E license, Driver CPC and a forklift license.

Delivered in partnership with Telford College, the apprenticeship scheme comprises both “on the road” and classroom-based training, teaching the technical elements associated with the highest standards of driving, as well as functional skills in Maths and English.

In addition to recruiting new talent, Wolseley UK is further investing in its fleet by training all 123 existing drivers, during working hours, under a Framework of Excellence which will see those who successfully complete the programme awarded a Level 2 Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles.

Joanne Smith, HR Director, Wolseley UK, said

“Wolseley UK aims to be the employer of choice in its industry and in order to attract and retain the best talent we’ve made sure that we offer innovative, exciting and industry-leading career opportunities.”

However, Chief Executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Alasdair Reisner, issues a cautionary statement about a need for the Government having to safegaurd skills for growth.

In response to today’s publication of Apprenticeships and traineeships for 16 to 19 year olds by the influential House of Commons Education Committee, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association have called on Government to end the skills deficit by ending the one-size fits all presumption that the same education suits everyone equally.  Alasdair says:

“Part of the solution lies in increasing access to, and improving the perception of, vocational education.

We need to end the one-sized fits all presumption that the same education suits everyone and treat academic and vocational routes equally. At the same time, we want to ensure the sector is an attractive careers option for those still in education.

CECA believes more can be done to improve business engagement with schools to highlight the variety of rewarding career options in the infrastructure sector.

Delivering world class infrastructure over the next decade will require a highly skilled and diverse workforce. Yet the industry is commonly perceived to be low-skilled, despite the reality being very different.

CECA calls on government to work with industry to attract new talent to the sector, expand business engagement with schools and young people, and safeguard skills for growth.”



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