National contractor invests in the future of construction with latest apprenticeship drive

National contractor invests in the future of construction with latest apprenticeship drive

Growing demand for entry-level routes into the construction industry has seen national contractor, Seddon, take on 17 new apprentices after receiving more than 350 applications.

Following two successful open days, Seddon has fulfilled a range of trainee roles across its North West and Midlands teams, including trade apprenticeships and higher degree schemes.

In total, five trade apprentices have joined the business, including three joiners, one painter and one bricklayer. All trade apprentices will gain on-the-job experience from day one, with classroom-based learning provided by local colleges. They are accompanied by 10 higher degree students, with five trainee site managers and five trainee quantity surveyors, who will gain qualifications from Salford College, Wolverhampton University and South & City College Birmingham.

The open days also saw Seddon assist two subcontractors with the recruitment of an apprentice bricklayer and a groundworker each. This aligns with the company’s commitment to helping supply chain partners add value to their businesses.

Last week, a group of the new Seddon apprentices met Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett (pictured above), at a development of 51 new homes for Salford Council on Clifton Green. The young people were joined by representatives from Seddon to celebrate the company’s commitment to providing apprenticeships and their impact on the wider Greater Manchester region.

Seddon has employed apprentices for over 80 years and, since 2019, 27 apprentices have qualified with the business. The company is keen to offer insight to other businesses in the construction industry on how to invest in new talent.

However, the company notes that, with some forms of apprenticeship training taking up to five years, it could take that long to correct the skills gap; requiring a huge boost in apprenticeship schemes across the country.

All new apprentices are supported by a robust mentorship scheme, meaning every trainee has equal one-on-one time with their own mentor. The availability of mentors reflects the number of apprentices that Seddon can recruit in one year.

Nicola Hodkinson, Director of Business Services at Seddon, said: “We’re extremely impressed with the sheer volume of talented applicants this year, and the demand for our roles. Apprenticeship schemes will always play a vital role at Seddon, and we remain committed to investing in new talent all year round.

“We have maintained this commitment to our apprentices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting current trainees and continuing to work with our supply chain and education partners to provide new training opportunities.

“It was also great to see a noticeable increase in women attending our open day and securing jobs with us ­ this is very much in line with our commitment to encouraging greater diversity across the industry.”

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) cites that only 50% of construction students remain in the industry after they finish college. Seddon strongly advocates for more contractors to partner with local colleges to support students with work placements and the opportunity to gain ‘real-life’ construction experience.

According to the Federation of Master Builders, 36% of construction companies are struggling to recruit bricklayers and carpenters.

This figure is in stark contrast to the Government’s much heralded Œlevelling up¹ agenda, which remains focused on helping employers to increase productivity, providing training for key roles within the public sector, and enhancing workforce diversity.

CITB claims the industry average for ethnic diversity is around 13%. Seddon aims to encourage overall diversity within the business by working closely with communities, schools, and parents to highlight the benefits of pursuing a career in construction. The company strives to highlight how the industry is well-paid and offers extensive opportunities across the sector to forge a high-level career.

The company also recognises the need to dispel the myths surrounding what working in the industry is like and showcase the many roles available.

Nicola continued: “What sets us apart is that, by offering the opportunity to train and specialise in a specific area of construction, our apprenticeships are seen as a learning investment, a process that identifies an individual’s strengths and potential. We work hard to reflect the CITB¹s mission to develop a construction workforce that has the right skills now and for the future.

“As part of our efforts to help close the skills gap, we want to work with the wider industry and our supply chains to make the apprenticeship recruitment journey as accessible as possible. Like the CITB, we want British construction to be recognised as a leader in building innovative career paths and flexible, talented workforces across the sector.”

In a further bid to raise awareness and attract more young people into the construction industry, Seddon is set to launch a School Partnership Programme in the 2021-22 academic year, alongside local schools that offer GCSE Construction. The company is also in talks with its local college to support full-time students with work sponsorships, with more details to be announced soon.

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