Steve Powell, of All Foundations found a new path other than apprenticeships to help the company expand further. Here is his view:
Later this summer, All Foundations will be employing a number of young trainees for the second year running. Young people who we give full contracts to and who, from the moment they join, are valuable people in the business.
While the construction industry has generally favoured the apprentice model to help address the skills shortage in the sector, our decision to go down the route of “recruit and train” has been a very deliberate move because we believe, on the piling and civils side of constructions, apprenticeships are both unsuitable and inflexible.
All Foundations is a specialist piling company working in rail and construction. Laying foundations for developments requires highly specialist skills and our employees need to be trained in very specific areas. Apprenticeships, while no doubt an incredibly important part of helping young people into work, take a more broad brush approach and not suited for such a niche area.
With the rail infrastructure sector booming, and All Foundations being one of very few piling companies in the UK to be accredited by the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS), suppliers like us need to remain agile and able to meet demand, which means when employees join us they have to be able to hit the ground running and be able to positively affect the business at the earliest opportunity.
Our return to a more traditional method – we employed five young people aged 18-20 on a full time basis last year – fast-tracks them to being qualified and has raised eyebrows across the country, especially as we employ of the very few, if not the only, young female piler in the UK.
Our young people are trained by being out in the field and over the course of their training take part in a bespoke modular programme covering key elements required to be work in piling, including concrete pump operation, slinger signaller, piling rig operation and piling rig driving.
This means that we have created real jobs for young people who really want to be part of the industry and who can chart a way forward. This in turn motives and encourages, and as a result they have flourished, gaining accreditations and plant certifications quickly and effectively.
What is encouraging is that Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has seen the value of this approach and has supported us with grant funding, and other local and Government grants makes recruiting a very strong and better-focused alternative to apprenticeships.
Employing and training young people has also helped us expand the business quickly and confidently and they are proving their worth.
With apprenticeships having such a high profile, it is easy for businesses to forget that recruiting young, enthusiastic people provides a viable and valuable alternative to addressing the skills shortage and growing your business.