We all hear a great deal of talk around attracting talent to the industry and about the importance of apprenticeships in supporting the drive for greater diversity, which is very positive.
But we are not having the right conversations about planning and upskilling, particularly when it comes to life after an apprenticeship.
“In the worst-case scenario, the industry has just wasted two years of investment and potentially lost the individual from the sector completely”
Some work has been done on the importance of developing courses for the different skills the industry will require, such as commercial and technology-focused apprenticeships, which is really beneficial. But once these two-year apprenticeships are over, what happens next?
Huge potential loss
In the worst-case scenario, if there is no defined role at the end of the apprenticeship or even a job, the industry has just wasted two years of investment and potentially lost the individual from the sector completely.
So if we are to truly get the value back from investing in apprenticeships, we need to collectively think about the employment pathways the industry needs if it is to develop the skilled leaders of the future.
Put in real terms, this means that a two-year apprenticeship scheme should only be the start of a three-to-five-year development journey. It is therefore important to learn from the practical grounding and experience an apprentice gets after their first year, so that we can plan for the types of additional training they will require to progress past their apprenticeship.
This is about both the skills and aptitude they have for a role and the understanding of what that role will be in, say, two years’ time. Such a mindset gives time to plan the additional investment in upskilling that may be required, ensuring the individual becomes more and more valuable to the business and the industry overall.
This could mean upskilling to degree level or more practical on-the-job training. We certainly can’t continue to have hundreds if not thousands of apprentices that don’t have the answer to the ‘what happens next?’ question.
It is up to the whole industry, right down to each individual mentor, to prepare the upskilling that convinces these individuals to stay in the industry, contribute to its success and to become role models for the future.
Julie Bradley is human resources director at Interserve Construction