Housebuilder calls for more to be done to encourage apprenticeships in the industry
In light of National Apprenticeships Week, housebuilder Barratt Developments Yorkshire West, which encompasses the Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes brands, is calling for more to be done to promote and offer apprenticeships within the industry. The drive comes in response to an increasing demand for housing across Yorkshire and the growing skills shortage, particularly amongst trades, within the construction field as a whole.
Currently recruiting for six apprentices of its own across South and West Yorkshire, including five bricklayers and carpenters and one commercial position, Barratt Developments is aiming to increase awareness of such schemes amongst young people. Ian Ruthven, Managing Director of Barratt Developments Yorkshire West, shares his thoughts:
An alternative route for further education
“Apprenticeships are a great alternative to the traditional education routes of college or university for a number of reasons. For one, apprentices are still learning desirable and employable skills whilst on a programme, but can avoid getting in to student debt. Apprenticeships offer the rare ability for young people to earn as they learn, as well as enter an industry where demand for the product and their skills will only increase in years to come. As a career, a trade like bricklaying or carpentry can be extremely profitable for skilled tradespeople for this exact reason, and offer a lot of opportunity for progression in both seniority and in salary.
“The wider construction industry, including housebuilding, is facing a sizeable shortage of skilled tradespeople. It’s a problem that will only increase over time and more needs to be done to encourage young people to enter the field so we can safeguard the workforce of the future. We have our own apprenticeships scheme covering a number of different areas of the business, and where possible we will choose to work with contractors who also offer paid opportunities for young people to become qualified in a trade.
“That said, there is more that can be done to promote the benefits of an apprenticeship by both large companies and small businesses in the industry. We are actively looking for opportunities to work with schools and colleges in the area to offer talks and workshops about the potential career avenues in housebuilding, in order to give young people the facts they need to make the right choice for them when it comes to choosing a future vocation.
Benefits for the wider community and economy
“Apprenticeships not only offer more financially-viable routes into a long-term career for young people, but they also boost employment within the local area. With guaranteed, regular work in Yorkshire through the ongoing build of much needed housing, apprentices can be assured that once they have learnt their trade that there is a sustainable volume of work for them in the local vicinity. This not only offers more attractive commutes and profitable returns, but also keeps the income within the area, therefore benefitting the wider community. “
Gary Taylor, aged 34 from South Yorkshire, joined Barratt Developments Yorkshire West in September 1999 as an apprentice joiner. During this apprenticeship, Gary developed his skills through both hands on and college based learning. He then progressed through the company, from a Trainee Assistant Site Manager, to reaching the position he currently holds as Contracts Manager. In this role he acts as the link between the office and staff on site, ensuring that developments are run in accordance to policies and inspecting plots for quality. He is also now the Divisional Apprentice Champion, supervising the apprentices in the company.
On his apprenticeship, Gary commented: “My apprenticeship opened so many doors for me. I learnt my craft, gained valuable knowledge of the building trade and I met a lot of influential people, all of which allowed me to become recognised within the company. This helped me then secure a job as a joiner with Barratt Developments, with continuous opportunities for progression ahead of me.
I have always been an outdoor person who liked practical elements to learning, which is why the route of an apprenticeship appealed to me. You learn on the job, alongside a college education, giving you a wide range of skills and knowledge. I knew that if I didn’t enjoy the practical side, there were still plenty of roles that I could enter because of my apprenticeship. I am now honoured to be Divisional Apprentice Champion for the Yorkshire West. I help guide our current apprentices, and I get to help them develop and progress through the company, just as I did.“