What we need for a thriving apprenticeship system

In his latest article for Installer, Mark Allison shares his top tips for those wanting to take on an apprentice.

February is always an exciting month for me thanks to Apprentice 121 and National Apprenticeship Week starts today, running 5-11 February 2024.

The theme is Skills for life with a focus on how apprenticeships can help individuals develop the skills and knowledge they need for a rewarding career, and employers develop a workforce for the future.

The celebrations will highlight the positive effects apprenticeships can have on communities, local businesses, and regional economies.

As our small part in this we run various giveaways across social media and support training providers and learners with equipment.

While government have removed a lot of funding for employers in the recruitment of apprentices, we still have a building skills shortfall in the construction sector. With the ever-growing demands for heat pumps, solar PV, and battery storage we need more skilled workers to deliver safe, high quality and long-lasting systems.

In my own small business, we have built through the apprenticeship model and Nathan who is well into his final year or so is the latest to progress. We have seen excellent results in developing the high skilled staff we need while also allowing apprentices to grow into full blown crafts people with opportunities for life.

But it is not without challenges, I have seen those in apprentice 121 over the last four years with reports coming in daily around poor training providers, job losses, apprentice dropouts and workforce erosion. It’s one of the reasons I kept this all going after Covid.

Top tips for employers on hiring an apprentice

I often get asked by employers how to recruit and take on apprentices and equally by apprentices in finding employment so I thought I would give my five top tips for both in this month’s article.

Employers:

  1. Contact local colleges/training providers to determine if they have apprentices looking for work.
  2. Contact local authorities and local area initiatives to discover if any public or private grants/funding are available to help with initial recruitment costs.
  3. Spend time interviewing and ensure you get a good fit with a potential apprentice. Attitude is more important than anything else.
  4. Work with the training provider to deliver an effective apprenticeship and understand you are also responsible for delivery of the training out on site.
  5. Time – budget for the time/cost required during the initial 6-12 months of an apprenticeship. Realistic expectations during the early part of an apprenticeship are especially important. The payback comes for the employer further down the road.

Top tips for those wanting to be apprentices

Apprentices:

  1. Visit wholesale counters in the local area and leave copies of a CV/contact details for any electricians they know who might be recruiting.
  2. Be active on social media building up examples of any work you have done both at college, home, or work experience.
  3. Look at the CPS database for local contractors and contact them by phone ideally to enquire if they are taking on apprentices.
  4. Do not forget the basics and visit job boards to search for electrical apprenticeships. Along with local colleges and training providers even beyond the ones you are attending.
  5. Attitude is so important and while its daunting stepping into the workplace try to be confident, friendly, and dress smart to make the best impression any chance you get.

Thriving system

In the plumbing, heating, and electrical industries we should have a thriving apprenticeship system but for a multitude of reasons that doesn’t seem to be happening consistently enough. It is my hope that small employers are helped towards the apprenticeship route, and we can return to times of the past when most tradespeople had an apprentice!

With the time and support to nurture the transfer of those skills into the future we can level up the installation standards in homes and businesses around the UK. We are currently exploring the growth of our business and it will be set firmly in the apprenticeship model to get there.

I will be sharing videos to link with this article on the Apprentice121 YouTube channel with further tips and advice. We already have a fair catalogue of support on the channel so feel free to check that out as well.

To find out more about national apprenticeship week and join in please see https://naw.appawards.co.uk/?consent_uid=DX7QwbmvSYaduTKvI4vcOA

National Apprenticeship Week takes place from 5 to 11 February 2024. It brings together everyone enthusiastic about apprenticeships to celebrate the value, benefit and opportunity that they bring. The 17th annual week-long celebration will highlight and celebrate apprenticeship employers, training providers, assessment organisations, apprentices, parents, schools, colleges, and universities. Together we can promote the benefits of apprenticeships and connected skills offers, highlighting the progression opportunities, exciting new occupational standards, and lots more.

If anyone would like to suggest topics for future articles, please reach out on social media or via the apprentice 121 website.

@electrician_247 on Twitter

@apprentice121 on Instagram

@Mark The Sparky Allison on YouTube