To celebrate this year’s National Apprenticeship Week, Chief Financial Officer Dan Taylor talks about why the construction industry should look beyond the stereotypical view of apprenticeships and recognise their potential.
We’ve worked with apprentices for a very long time, bringing in apprentices straight from school isn’t something that’s new to us, or indeed for the construction industry. What is different however is the way apprenticeships now operate.
Gone are the days of bringing in school leavers to make the tea and be sent off on wild goose chases for “tartan paint” or a “long weight”. The construction industry has quite rightly realised the value of apprentices as the future of our industry and the new opportunities this opens up to both businesses and individuals.
For us, apprentices have always been more than the site dogsbody or office tea maker. We don’t see much value in bringing someone in at 16, giving them two years of training but then treating them like the bottom of the pile so they take that training elsewhere. Instead we’d rather look beyond these traditional stereotypes and see their value from day one. A 16-year-old straight out of school may offer a new energy, skillset and outlook we’d never considered, meanwhile an older career change apprentice will bring with them invaluable experience from their previous roles in other industries.
At nmcn we see apprenticeships as a two-way street. We get access to talented people that might not come through traditional routes to work and we get the opportunity to upskill our teams and help them further their careers for the future.
That’s why 12% of our current workforce of 1,800 is currently undertaking some form of apprenticeship. While there is lots of great talent out there, we recognise that there is also significant value in growing the skills base of our existing teams to help them progress rather than simply relying on bringing in the finished package from elsewhere.
By investing in apprenticeships across the business, from entry level up to management training we can ensure our people are continually learning and getting real life experience rather than simply learning in a classroom environment. By doing this, our colleagues can apply their learning to the business straight away which can only be positive for both the business and the apprentice.
We’re working in a fast moving environment which has constantly changing challenges and opportunities. By making use of apprenticeships across every part of our business from site roles to IT, to design and procurement and even at management level, we can benefit from the new skills our apprentices are learning immediately which can only serve our business and of course our entire team well in the future.
Our people are key to the growth of our business. For us our apprentices’ learning doesn’t end when they complete their courses, we want to encourage them to continue feeding their appetite to develop throughout their career and it’s something some of our past apprentices have gone on to prove. For example, one previous apprentice Simon Reeve has gone on to great things and after completing his degree in Construction Management is now working as a design manager at our Jersey waste treatment site. Solutions Architect Lead Luke Bishop, who joined us straight after his GCSEs as an IT apprentice, is now making great progress leading on some of our ICT development programmes.
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