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Building a firm foundation for the future

Our formal apprenticeship scheme dates back to the 1960s, when a model was established for recruiting and training future generations of skilled workers.

We continue to use this method today, recruiting up to 10 trainees annually across traditional construction trades including bricklaying, carpentry, plumbing and electrical installation, combining college studies with on-the-job training.

This means we have up to 30 apprentices training with us every year.

We view our commitment to apprenticeships as an investment in both people and the business, and every year we experience the benefits that apprentices bring.

Pool creation

For example, our apprentice programme enables us to maintain an inflow of young people and train them into occupations on which the company is dependent.

In turn, this allows us to develop employees to our specific requirements, thereby creating a pool of highly skilled labour.

We have found this approach to be an effective means of meeting current and future skills demands, instead of relying on the external labour market.

Developing home-grown talent also enables us to attract the best quality recruits and shape our newcomers in their approach to work.

This helps us control costs and quality, thereby creating a successful balance between the skills of the employee and the needs of the company.

Furthermore, our apprenticeship scheme promotes a culture of loyalty within the business which we have found builds employee retention.

Build relations

However, delivering successful apprenticeships cannot rest solely with the employer.

We have learned that forging strong links with local colleges and training providers, as well as seeking guidance from the industry – particularly the CITB, leads to well-rounded apprentices that integrate seamlessly into full-time employment.

Apprenticeships have a significant role to play in changing negative perceptions of the industry, increasing the awareness of construction careers as a viable option for young people and attracting under-represented groups.

In tackling these issues, we hope to offer young people a positive alternative to higher education by commencing a rewarding and life-long career.

Rebecca Jones is HR & training officer at William Davis

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