Apprenticeships: Employer-led Training and Development for all Ages

Amy Ross is Head of Social Value at Higgins Partnerships.

We spoke to Amy about the value apprentices bring to their business and supply chain, how apprentices progress and why apprenticeships are a relevant and business-focused way to develop and train staff.

Picture of female wearing a suit looking at the camera

“With the new Apprenticeship standards – they are employer led and driven so they’re relevant to our business and can be flexible around the job which is important.”

Tell us about your organisation and your role

I work for Higgins Partnerships and we’re a contractor/developer working in and around London and the south east area. We have construction projects ranging from £10million upwards.

We are a family-owned and operated business that’s been going for almost 60 years and a big part of our ethos is our social value and Corporate Social Responsibility. It’s my role to develop this and partly where our apprenticeship and employment and recruitment strategy comes from – we have a passion for developing people and bringing them through the organisation.

Why did you choose apprenticeships to train and develop your staff?

Apprenticeships are becoming more and more widely recognised and the opportunity to earn while you learn means we can attract a wide and diverse range of people to improve our growth and diversity particularly in construction.

We have a commitment on our construction projects around employing apprentices with local authorities so we recruit apprentices of all ages – anyone over the age of 18 – for sites; so we have young people as well as people in their late twenties, thirties and forties. We value those transferable skills from previous roles in older apprentices as much as the raw talent that younger people bring as a way to get into the construction industry which is great for us.

We also use them for staff training as it’s got the best way of applying the skills that you’re learning and you’ve also got that practical application which, is relevant as it is hands-on and directly linked to our business. With the new Apprenticeship standards – they are employer led and driven so they’re relevant to our business and can be flexible around the job which is important.

Are apprenticeships part of your long-term recruitment strategy? How have they been incorporated?

Apprentices are a way for us to bring in early talent and progress them through the organisation allowing them to develop a proper career. A lot of our team have been with us for over 30 years and some of those started out as apprentices so it’s really great that we have these role models who have progressed through our company which is important for attracting new people.

What benefits do apprenticeships bring to your organisation?

The benefit to us is that were bringing in new talent, fresh thinking young people with different perspectives who will bring innovation and ideas and enthusiasm, also the fact they’re applying their training and knowledge on the job and applying their ways of learning with us.

In terms of upskilling our candidates with more experience they’re bringing transferable skills to our business and these two routes have been very beneficial to us.

What progression pathways do you offer for apprentices?

The aim with all of our apprentices is we’ve invested time training them and we want to see the return on that investment. We want to them to progress within the business, whether it’s a higher level apprentice or a role within the company. A lot of the apprentices are for our supply chain managers, and we always work with apprentices to ensure they have the outcome or progression whether it’s with ourselves or within our supply chain partners.

How do you mentor your apprentices?

We have an involved induction so they spend time with their line manager and get a very good introduction into the business. Each of our apprentices has a buddy or mentor depending on their role – whether it’s with us directly or on a contract – but it’s someone who they can ask questions to and talk to more on their level. We’re very big on wellbeing and mental health and we do regular check-ins on apprentices to make sure they’re on track or have any concerns so there are quite a lot of support systems in place.

What advice would you give to other organisations who are thinking about apprenticeships to train their staff?

I would definitely recommend it as an excellent formal and accredited way to develop your employees, training providers like Ixion are very knowledgeable and can provide support and information to help you through the process.

What impact has Covid-19 had?

It slowed us down, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to carry on through Covid and we’ve been in an industry that is sustainable but it’s been more challenging to take on apprentices and doing it in a safe working way when bringing new people into the industry – we are a very health and safety focused industry and we take compliance seriously. We’re still recruiting, we haven’t stopped, we also have a five-year management trainees programme based on the apprentice route and we’re still actively recruiting so in the main we’re still bringing new people in.

What support have you received from us as a training provider?

We’ve had lots of support. The team I’ve worked with has always been on hand to deal with queries and if people need extra  support. We’ve had help with sourcing apprentices, receive regular updates on the latest information around standards or delivery methods so the team has been very knowledgeable and supportive.

What key words or phrases describing working with us?

Support, flexible in delivery makes our life a lot easier

What key words or phrases describe apprenticeships?

Practical, rewarding and skills development

“We have young people as well as people in their late twenties, thirties and forties. We value those transferable skills from previous roles in older apprentices as much as the raw talent that younger people bring.”

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required
Please select areas of interest:
Skip to content