Apprenticeships - An Employer's Perspective

The CITB forecasts that from 2017 to 2021 some 8,000+ construction operatives will be required, year-on-year, throughout the South East and South West combined. This growth equates to 1.7% over the same 5-year period.

With less than 50% of the Grants being claimed by “In-scope” Levy paying Construction companies, it has to be assumed that the existing workforce is content with the current skill levels, or are not even aware of what is available, apart from the regular and timely renewing of competency cards e.g. CSCS, NPORS etc.

The somewhat dramatic, influx of skilled Eastern European workers in the past, is inclined to worryingly illustrate the acute shortage of suitably skilled local operatives throughout the industry.

Engaging an Apprentice will go some considerable way to alleviating the situation longer-term. There are many ways and configurations that constitute apprentice training and the following is designed to highlight one reliable way in which it all can be satisfactorily achieved.

Traditional Method

  • Identify the right candidate through your own interview processes and procedures

  • Using the Links published and visit www.goconstruct.org and learn more about what resources are readily available to you

  • The CITB route is one of the options, through a dedicated Managing Agency, whose role it is to manage the Apprentice through his or her training and the associated administration

  • You will always be notified of the dates when the Apprentice should start at the local College, and this can either be day or block release, usually commencing in September (the beginning of the Academic Year)

  • There are many Grants available, over the 3 years, that you as an employer can expect (please refer to the CITB web links referred to earlier) assuming that all milestones and levels of qualification have been suitably achieved e.g. relevant trade NVQ Levels

  • As part of an OCTG adopted protocol, an Apprentice Agreement will be formally presented at the Annual Apprentice Awards’ ceremony (usually during the second/third week of October) to all those in their first year, having satisfactorily completed a prescribed period of induction/probation

  • The qualification achieved after 2 years will normally be an NVQ Level 2 and after the 3rd year will be NVQ Level 3, complemented by a CITB Certification Scheme Health & Safety Card (CSCS Card)

  • The Group recommends an industry led annual pay increment for all Apprentices of companies within its Membership, which is always based on achievement gained throughout the specified practical training and academic attainment. These rates and up to date annual guidance may be reliably obtained by visiting: www.fmb.org.uk/about-the-fmb/publications/batjic-wages-and-holidays/

  • There are no College fees to pay, as these are met by the CITB; the Managing Agency also considers the provision of additional financial support towards travelling to and from College

  • Reviews of the Apprentice are undertaken by both the nominated College and approved Managing Agency; these reports are then issued to the employer and the Apprentice, in order to monitor the progress over the 3 year period; in order to aid and validate the process, the CITB has its own local Apprentice Officer who would normally be involved throughout

  • To achieve each unit of the relevant NVQ (National Vocational Qualification), tangible evidence must be gathered in a written narrative form, supported by suitable photographic proof of the practical work undertaken whilst on site or in the workshop

  • A Work-based Recorder nominated by the company must sign off this evidence in readiness for approval by the College Assessors and Awarding Organisation

  • Should the employer be unable to fulfil this practical skills’ obligation in obtaining relevant evidence to satisfy these units, the Group can assist by approaching other Members, in order that the Apprentice can work on a short-term basis thus gaining the right level of on-site/workshop exposure

  • A combination of academic achievement and contribution to the business, can lead to an Apprentice being nominated for the current year’s Apprentice of the Year Awards. This is independently assessed by The OCTG’s own adjudication panel (can comprise the Managing Agency, relevant College, CITB’s Apprenticeship Officer/Local Adviser and the Group Training Officer). These apprentices are judged to be the best across the three categories (Level 3, Level 2 and Merit Award); a successful bi-product of this process is a further award – Special Recognition Award, therefore rightly enabling full recognition of their respective contributions in the presence of leading industry representatives, sponsors, employers, College Tutors, family and friends at the Awards’ Evening in October.