This week (14 – 18 March) is National Apprenticeship Week.
The week is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service – it is designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individual people, businesses and the wider economy.
VGC has more than 50 apprentices working on NVQ level 2 and 3 placements across the UK. They work in in various fields including general construction operations, human resources, procurement and general business administration. On a visit to VGC in November 2014, MP Nick Hurd said: “The VGC Group’s apprentice scheme offers valuable opportunities to get training and career direction in a very exciting industry.”
Go for it
“To anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship, I’d say ‘go for it’,” says Reece Skingley (on R above with fellow-apprentice James). Reece joined VGC as an apprentice on Crossrail Anglia in October 2015. “It’s the best way to get theory and practical skills, to make you more employable.”
According to the National Apprenticeship Service, apprenticeships boost productivity to businesses by on average £214 per week. There were 871,800 funded apprentices in 2014/15.
‘Rise to the top’
The key theme for National Apprenticeship Week 2016 is: “An apprenticeship can take you anywhere”. There is a particular focus on higher skills to show how young people, entrepreneurs and businesses can “rise to the top” through traineeships and apprenticeships.
Terry Dutton-Wells started his career as an apprentice welder. He became VGC’s HSQE director in 2002. Now semi-retired, he still has a valued role within VGC as a non-executive director. “Rail is a great career,” he says. “It offers so many openings in numerous disciplines. You get the opportunity to look at where you want to be in any aspect of the broad spectrum of industry activities.”
“I learn more things every shift”
Rudy Osborne is an apprentice on our Track Partnership (Balfour Beatty and London Underground) contract. “The teams are really good, always helping me out,” he says. “They have a lot of experience, and I learn more things every shift. I really enjoy looking over at something once the job has finished, and thinking ‘I was part of making that’.”
Rudy views his apprenticeship as a way to get a start in the engineering industry – he has some good examples to follow, including Lee Van Cliff. Lee started his apprenticeship in 2013 and is now a full-time chain person on the Crossrail Whitechapel contract.
After finishing, most apprentices (90%) stay in employment (including 2% self-employed), with seven in ten (71%) staying with the same employer. A quarter of former apprentices had been promoted (23%) within 12 months of finishing.
Ciara Pryce, Group Services Director, said: “VGC believes that as a company we have a responsibility to support new entrants to the industry. Apprentices offer sustainable employment opportunities as well as helping to tackle the skills shortage in the construction and rail industries.”