The Personnel Today Awards 2022 take place on 15 November 2022 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Among the finalists for the Apprenticeship Employer of the Year award are organisations that have used apprenticeships to improve diversity and plug skills gaps.
Family-run Bagnalls has specialised in painting and decorating since 1875. Apprenticeships are a major part of its talent attraction strategy, to ensure it has the workforce needed to continue to thrive in future.
Bagnalls has employed apprentices since 1899 and of the 600 people it currently employs, 42 are apprentices. Programmes on offer are not limited to painting and decorating – accountancy, project management and leadership programmes are also available.
Apprentices spend 10 days at the company’s training academy each year, working under the guidance of Barry Caple, who himself trained as an apprentice over 50 years ago. Barry works with each apprentice’s manager to support them to reach their goals, which can include extra tuition, mental health support and liaison with the apprentice’s college.
Personnel Today Awards
The Personnel Today Awards 2022 will take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane on 15 November 2022. Book your table now
Bagnalls has a proactive outreach programme and regularly attends local school and college careers events. Recognising the importance of diversity in the industry, females are actively encouraged to find out more about its programmes. Thirteen per cent of those hired through the 2021 apprenticeship campaign were female.
Of those due to finish their apprenticeship in 2021-22, 20 of 27 successfully passed their painting apprenticeship at Level 2, of whom 17 are still employed by Bagnalls.
Channel 4 apprentice positions are overwhelmingly given to candidates who might find it difficult to secure a route into the media, having not gone to university.
As part of its drive to decentralise from London, 13 apprentices were recruited into its Leeds and Manchester offices last year, while 14 were in the capital. By September this year it aims to have taken on a further 35 apprentices, including degree apprentices in data anlytics and broadcast engineering, taking the total number of apprentices it employs to 56 – the largest number it has ever had.
An annual apprentice learning cirriculum includes 16 online modules specifically aimed at apprentices. They also undertake four face-to-face sessions focusing on personal brand, communication, prioritising workloads and being assertive. This year’s Learning at Work Week included peer-to-peer sessions exclusively for apprentices, allowing them build strong relationships with each other and other teams that might appeal to their skills and interests.
A news-style show called “The Apprentice Show” is posted on its intranet to keep apprentices up to date with what’s happening across the organisation, while hiring managers meet with them every three months to provide constructive feedback focusing on their progression, strengths and development areas. If C4 is unable to retain them at the end of their apprenticeship, they are given support to update their CV and LinkedIn profile.
Apprentices were eligible for C4’s annual bonus for the first time this year and their salary was increased to reflect the Living Wage.
Parcel carrier DPD UK employs 120 apprentices across 10 departments. One of the programmes it is most proud of is DPD Inspire, which since 2018 has been providing supported apprenticeships and employment for people with disabilities or special educational needs.
Many people with disabilities find that after the age of 25, state support and funding for education stop and they find themselves no longer able to attend college. DPD runs a dedicated supported employment team to assist these individuals.
It has a six-step process, which involves providing a supported internship to the individual, progressing through an apprenticeship, and then finally being offered ongoing paid employment with DPD. Support networks meet regularly to set targets and review progress, and include a department manager, a mentor/buddy, an HR business partner and a job coach, who can be from a local college.
It works with colleges and bodies including the British Association for Supported Employment to identify any reasonable adjustments that may be necessary. For example, an LED traffic light system has been put in place on the desk of one apprentice so they can communicate their needs.
One-hundred per cent of Inspire graduates have been offered paid employment with DPD. The programme’s success has influenced the company’s recently revised mission statement, which includes the words: “We will grow our business by creating an open, ethical and inclusive culture”.
Energus facilitates people and skills programmes for the nuclear and related sectors. Since 2017 it has run a cyber security apprenticeship programme in partnership with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which has engaged 34 apprentices to date and a further 12 are planned this year.
Following a two-week induction programme, which includes the opportunity to meet industry experts and an outdoor team-building exercise, apprentices complete their training with regular performance discussions to monitor progress, discuss learning and skills development, identify emerging issues and assess their impact within the workplace.
All apprentices act as STEM ambassadors and often attend conferences, the National Cyber Security Centre, and the House of Commons, where they pose questions to MPs about security challenges.
The programme has a 94% completion rate. Those who have completed their programme have gone on to secure roles including cyber security consultant, data governance officer and cyber analyst.
Pepper Advantage is a loan servicer and real estate asset manager. It’s apprenticeship programme, Steer Your Career, delivers a rounded programme of learning to all of its apprentices.
Realising that apprenticeships were a cost-effective way to grow future talent, it has enabled more functions to hire apprentices, extended apprenticeship opportunities to all existing employees and increased study opportunities so that apprentices could experience different parts of the business and potentially change career paths if desired.
The two-week intensive training academy has been a particular success and is offered to all cohorts irrespective of function. Additional training is also offered to grow soft skills.
Annual apprenticeship enrolment grew in 2019 and 2020 following the introduction of an Apprentice Day recruitment event, which helps it identify potential from external candidates and give interested parties an insight into Pepper’s working environment and culture.
More than two-thirds of apprentices have secured permanent roles at Pepper after completing their studies and 90% of Pepper colleagues studying for or having completed an apprenticeship have earned a promotion. The firm’s oldest apprentice is 52, having joined the business as a temporary worker nine months before starting their studies.
Pets at Home Group
Pets at Home Group’s apprenticeships are designed to help shape colleague’s careers and include both specialist and leadership development pathways to prepare them for the future. It offers 42 different apprenticeships from level 2 to 7.
In 2020 it was involved in getting the new level 2 dog grooming apprenticeship signed off, after the level 2 animal care framework was discontinued by the government. Pets at Home Group recognised the continued need for apprenticeships at this level to give more options to younger people leaving education. This has resulted in the creation of 75 new dog grooming apprenticeships.
In 2021 it launched the Pets at Home Data Academy, which offers opportunities for data apprenticeships. It focuses on four key programmes: AI data specialist, an MSc in applied data analytics, a data science degree and a data fellowship. This has offered opportunities for existing store colleagues to retrain – one of whom is training to become a BI engineer.
The pet care business says apprenticeships are central to its ESG strategy, especially level 2 programmes that offer people with lower academic achievements and other barriers to employment an opportunity to gain qualifications and work experience.
Back in 2020, real estate company Savills “tore up the rulebook” and changed its apprenticeship scheme to make it accessible to a more diverse range of applicants.
It offers 10 different apprenticeship pathways, which span one to five years. Placements are offered from level 2 upwards and some have lower entry requirements – historically, its apprenticeship scheme was aimed at those in further and higher education, so this is a significant departure from the image it previously portrayed.
It worked with Career Ready and the Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors on an outreach programme to build a pipeline of applicants. Activity included presentations at schools and taster sessions in its offices.
Every apprentice is offered a contract of employment from their first day, guaranteeing a job at the end of their programme. This has resulted in a recent 9.1/10 score for the statement “I feel secure at Savills knowing that I have a guaranteed job at the end of my apprenticeship”. Apprentices receive the same holiday entitlement and benefits package as full-time employees.
Every apprentice has access to a bespoke app that allows them to track their progress with the 20% “off the job” training they are required to undertake.
It has surpassed its target to increase apprentice numbers to 100 by 2023, and apprentices rate Savills’ programme highly. The work of apprentices is having a positive impact on the business, with some closing high-value deals and increasing efficiencies within the team.
Logistics company Wincanton has, like many transport operators, experienced challenges in attracting new drivers to the profession. However, its Future Driver apprenticeship programme is helping it train the drivers needed now and in the years to come.
Future Driver is designed specifically to attract, select and train new HGV drivers. Some 465 colleagues, including 145 apprentices, are participating in the 12-month programme, which supports individuals to obtain their HGV licence and embed the skills, knowledge and competences needed to be a professional driver.
Apprentices begin the programme in a warehouse, porter or transport office role before they pass their HGV driving tests. This helps them understand wider business needs and gain the necessary health and safety knowledge before going ot on the road.
They participate in both online and face-to-face learning, and night shift apprenticeships exist for those who cannot commit to daytime face-to-face sessions.
Ninety-six per cent of apprentices who have completed the Future Driver programme have stayed with Wincanton. Sixty-nine per cent are under the age of 34 and 8% are female.
With a target of filling 60% of vacancies from within the business, XPO Logistics focuses heavily on upskilling staff via apprenticeships. The UK and Ireland business employs 150 apprentices across over 20 different programmes.
The UK’s shortage of HGV drivers has been a major concern for XPO, so its HGV driver apprenticeship has been a focus for the firm. It now has over 50 driver apprentices, many of whom are based on customer sites, some of whom are so keen to learn that they gained their licences in record time and with few faults during tests.
After completing the 12 month programme, apprentices have gone on to play critical roles within the business. Many have become ‘buddies’ to apprentices, while others have been involved in XPO’s female driver forums.
As well as the HGV driving programme, XPO Logistics also offers apprenticeships in finance, HR, leadership and management and learning and development, among other varied programmes.
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