As with many SME businesses in the construction sector, the management team at Brenbar had their doubts about the benefits of employing apprentices. But after adopting practical apprenticeship policies Dale Brennan, Managing Director of the electrical services company talks about how apprentices have boosted his business.
Ask any MD at a construction SME and they will tell you that the biggest obstacle, when trying to attract apprentices, is in the poor image of the industry. Young people are routinely pushed in to other sectors, and are drawn in to other professions with more 'favourable' working environments.
Historically, building sites are seen as unwelcoming, dangerous, foreboding places. And although we are seeing a shift in this with the introduction of initiatives such as The Considerate Construction Scheme and more rigorous health and safety legislation, more still needs to be done to showcase construction as the fun, interesting and rewarding career that it is.
As a responsible employer, the biggest reservation we had, when employing young apprentices, was actually around health and safety. In our experience, young people often have concentration lapses which proves problematic when working on site. On a number of occasions, we've had to temporarily remove people from site and spend time retraining them in the classroom.
But now, with careful monitoring and supervision we have been able to put these fears to bed. The company policies that we have developed have allowed us to fully engage with apprentice programmes and also to keep all of our workers safe.
Safety is paramount to our business but the one quality we look for above all others when selecting an apprentice, is enthusiasm. All other attributes will flow from enthusiasm, including qualities such as punctuality, attendance, learning and diligence - it is vital to a successful career in construction.
Our latest apprentice to join the company, Mason, displays all of the above attributes in abundance and continues to learn at a fast pace. As a result, we will be entering him for best electrical apprentice award at the 2017 Berkeley Group Apprentice Awards.
We seek to build close, understanding relationships with all our employees, especially the apprentices, to enable us to develop a highly competent, safe workforce. Enthusiastic apprentices can invigorate existing employees with youthful energy, ambition, inquisitive nature and eagerness to learn. If this is properly nurtured and rewarded, they can become valuable assets in the future, not just for our business but for an industry that is facing a crippling skills shortage.
Because apprentices are sourced locally, we are able to engage and support them in their local community but we also know that producing a skilled individual who can be deployed on future projects, across London and the South East can really benefit the whole industry.
Ultimately, apprenticeships are extremely worthwhile and when managed correctly they are extremely effective - we are walking, talking proof of this. We now have numerous employees, at all levels within the company, who have previously joined the company as an apprentice. And moving forward, we hope to employ many more people through national apprenticeship schemes to support and grow our business and the construction sector.