Recognising the importance of apprenticeships

Kicking off its largest development to date, Watson Homes is providing opportunities for the next generation of the construction workforce. Elleise Stanton, people and culture manager at Watson Homes discusses how the company recognises the value of investing in apprenticeships to build a skilled and engaged workforce.

The latest Construction Skills Network report shows that recruiting a strong workforce and fostering a vibrant company culture is crucial for industry growth. To meet government housing targets and meet net zero goals, recent reports state that 350,000 new construction roles need to be created by 2028. 

The UK is still facing a housing crisis that shows no sign of letting up, so the need to recruit and retain talent in the sector is more crucial than ever. The industry needs to recognise the value apprenticeships can provide when developing a skilled and committed workforce. 

New talent to offer a fresh outlook

Investing in apprenticeship programmes not only benefits the individual, by providing them with the skills for a successful career but also has long-term benefits for business. We hire apprentices to become long-term employees. Our current apprentice cohort is fully equipped to continue to prosper at Watson once their apprenticeship ends. 

One benefit we see with hiring apprentices is that they offer fresh perspectives. They come to us with an enthusiasm for learning and offer diversity we wouldn’t otherwise have. Although the guidance apprentices require is time-consuming, the outcome outweighs the input. Their ways of working will be moulded to your businesses preferences and they will be ready to step into skilled roles you need to fill. 

Misconceptions surrounding apprenticeship schemes

Public perception towards apprenticeships can play a big part in how students, schools, the government and the industry approach them. They are often undervalued as a secondary option when grades are not met. If schools don’t recognise the value apprenticeships can hold for career advancement, students can miss out on the benefits.

Not every student wants to stay in the classroom, but that doesn’t mean their apprenticeship qualifications should be seen as less valuable than a degree.

The route to unlock career advancement

Jay Bradford is just one apprentice who has had rapid career progression with us, progressing from apprentice to assistant site manager in just three years. After completing his NVQ Level 4 Site Supervision Apprenticeship, Jay has gone from working on our site in Gorton with 40 apartments to being promoted to assistant site manager at our largest project, Creams Mill. Working alongside people with years of experience, Jay feels his apprenticeship has helped him to mature quicker and gain more confidence than if he was solely learning in a classroom. Jay’s advancement in the industry demonstrates the value of apprenticeships and the fast progression that people can benefit from.

As we embark on our largest housing yet, Creams Mill in Bolton, we have taken the opportunity to create multiple opportunities for residents who want to enter the construction industry. The full site stretches across 31 acres and will consist of 255 homes, so requires a team of skilled professionals from diverse areas. We will be providing opportunities for a minimum of 12 apprentices and creating 15 work placements with students from local schools, ensuring these roles cover diverse areas of the business, including site management, health and safety and office-based roles. 

Hafi is another one of our apprentice site managers who is excelling in his role. He feels as though he is already ahead in terms of his career compared to people who opt to go to university. With our team’s commitment to supporting apprentices, it is fantastic to hear that Hafi believes it was the best decision he has made. Equipped with the skills learnt from one-to-one mentoring and first-hand experience, Hafi had the capability and confidence to be thrown in at the deep end and manage the handover of our Morris Street site in Radcliffe by himself. 

To address the skills shortage and secure a future for housebuilding, we must champion apprenticeships and inspire the younger generation. The future of construction doesn’t just exist in the classroom but in the hands of those curious to learn, build, and innovate.