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Apprenticeships bridge skills gaps for national house builder

Apprenticeships bridge skills gaps for national house builder

Redrow Homes headquartered in Flintshire, has offered apprenticeships since it was founded in 1974.

A national housebuilder is supporting National Apprenticeship Week after finding apprentices the perfect solution to filling the skills gap within the company.

Redrow Homes, headquartered in Flintshire, has offered apprenticeships since it was founded in 1974. Its current apprenticeship programme launched in 2009, and offers a variety of skilled trades, design, commercial and office-based apprenticeship schemes across its developments, head office and divisional headquarters in England and Wales.

National Apprenticeship Week 2018 runs from 5 to 9 March. It celebrates the positive impact apprenticeships have on both individuals and businesses, as well as recognising the skills and talent apprentices can bring to the workplace.

Clare Hindley, new entrant programmes manager at Redrow Homes, said: “Apprenticeships have always been important to the construction sector and our programme is an integral part of our operating procedure.

“Our trade apprentices are placed with trusted subcontractors who we know provide excellent training, while our administrative apprentices are placed with the opportunity to move to a particular department such as sales and progress to additional training and qualifications once they complete their apprenticeship.”

With the Welsh construction sector expected to grow 6% each year until 2019 – twice the rate of growth of the UK sector – skills gaps are threatening the industry’s ability to keep up with demand.

Clare said: “Skills gaps are currently a real problem for the Welsh construction industry. We find taking on apprentices goes a long way towards solving this problem. Not only do they fill gaps and bring fresh new talent, they allow us to train the next generation to our high standards.

“Our commercial apprenticeship programme launched in response to a shortage we were experiencing in quantity surveyors. We faced either hiring a graduate with a relevant degree but little experience, or someone experienced who may have been trained to work in a different way from Redrow. This could have been a real problem for us, with time and money spent on recruitment and training, instead we now train our own quantity surveyors in-house.”

Since 2013, 39 Welsh apprentices have progressed to full-time roles with Redrow, or stayed on with their subcontractor as skilled trades. Five of these have progressed to site management and further qualifications, with one soon due to begin full degree in housebuilding sponsored by Redrow. The company is keen to link apprenticeship recruitment to succession planning, ideally only recruiting when there is a position available to progress to on completion of the apprenticeship.

Clare continued: “We see our apprenticeship programme as working towards improving the skills of the construction industry in Wales as a whole. We know our apprentices may go on to work for other companies, but there’s satisfaction knowing they’re working to a high standard wherever they go. Construction is a very circular industry so there’s always a chance they might work for Redrow again in the future.

Nathan Airey, 24 from Cardiff, is in his second year working towards a Level 2 apprenticeship in tiling with Redrow through one of its contractors, V&C (SW). He said: “I wanted to do an apprenticeship when I left school at 16, but didn’t manage to find one. I ended up in different jobs but nothing I enjoyed or could see myself doing long-term. I applied to Redrow’s apprenticeship scheme on the off-chance and I was really happy when I was asked for interview.

“During the interview process, Redrow asked which trades I was most interested in learning. My father-in-law is a tiler and I’d always liked the idea of going into that trade so they placed with V&C. Doing this apprenticeship was definitely the right move for me, I really enjoy the mix of practical on-the-job work and getting to go back to college one day a week.”

The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.

Minister for Welsh Language and Lifelong Learning Eluned Morgan said: “National Apprenticeship Week is an important celebration of the fantastic opportunities apprenticeships present to businesses as well as individuals across Wales. Through apprenticeships, companies are helping to keep vital skills and industries alive and drive economic growth in Wales.

“Redrow Homes is just one example of a company benefiting from the chance to train the next generation in the specialist skills it needs within its organisation. Apprenticeships are a key investment for employers and play an important role in improving the skills and nurturing the talent of Wales as a whole.

“For individuals, apprenticeships can be a route to an exciting and fulfilling future career. Although we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week every spring, the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship Programme runs throughout the year to highlight the opportunities and support available for both apprentices and the employers who take them on.”

Article courtesy of Wales Online (www.walesonline.co.uk)

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