It’s National Apprenticeship Week, and as part of this we are celebrating our efforts to raise and nurture the aspirations of local people by guiding them on their first steps into a successful career.
Building for the future is as much about investing in people as it is about predicting the challenges you will face. When WDH was launched 10 years ago in 2005, our apprenticeship scheme was new and our ambitions were high. We wanted to provide the best possible training and skills so that those taking part could build bright futures for themselves.
To date, including the latest intake of tradespeople, more than 100 people have joined us through our scheme, and the impact has been fantastic.
Whilst we’ve offered people the opportunity to learn valuable workplace skills, in return apprentices have helped drive our business forward, moving us closer towards achieving our long-term goals.
Today our training is among the best in the country, and our success at the prestigious 2013 Regional Final of the National Apprenticeship Awards demonstrates this perfectly. By focusing on soft skills as part of our induction programme and technical abilities over the duration of the apprenticeship, people who leave the scheme are both more employable and well-rounded individuals.
To provide a safe learning environment for apprentices to hone their skills, each one is assigned a mentor and has a single line manager to ensure they receive consistent support. Because many trade apprentices spend their time working in different geographic areas learning from different teams, this support structure enables them to do simple tasks such as request leave and have an appraisal much more easily.
For our in-house Homebuilder team, their role within the business has proven vital. Formal study at college provides them with the qualifications they need to start a life-long career, and their on-the-job experience has helped us to build more homes, much more affordably. Everyone wins.
For many people, completing a trade apprenticeship with us marks the start of their career. We’re very proud of the fact that many have quickly grown into more senior roles at a young age - a fantastic endorsement of the scheme and our commitment to developing our future business leaders.
Whether our people are working on building sites, are team leaders, or support our office functions, each person plays a vital role in shaping WDH’s future through their hard work and dedication.
For our class of 2015 this will be no different and there’s much to look forward to. Our training programme is the best it’s ever been thanks to ongoing apprentice feedback and over the next five years we’ve got a lot of work to do. Having committed £650 million to building new homes and improving our existing estates, anyone joining us will play a very hands-on role in helping us deliver this ambition. This year we’re taking on our joint largest ever intake of 20 apprentices, which demonstrates our commitment to meeting these ambitions and how we are investing in our people to meet the challenges of the future.
As the general election approaches, all the main political parties are committed to either improving apprenticeship wages or creating more roles, which is encouraging for the thousands of young people who struggle to find work every year. At WDH our apprentices are paid above the national minimum wage and the number of apprentices we recruit is based on business need.
This evening (11 March) we are hosting our first ever apprenticeship open evening at our headquarters and I would encourage you to share this event with anyone you think might be interested in learning a trade. They could be our next apprentices and will be our next business leaders.