Apprentices on their construction career path with Stewart Milne Group
Fourteen apprentices have taken their first steps in careers in construction with leading house builder and timber systems manufacturer the Stewart Milne Group.
Over four years, the 2014 intake of apprentices to the business will gain the skills and experience to enable them to develop careers in a dynamic, growth industry with the National House Building Council (NHBC) five-star rated house builder.
Whilst apprenticeships were traditionally seen as a route into a trade for school leavers, the ages of the new apprentices range from 16 to 32, demonstrating that career changers as well as young people are increasingly recognising the wide range of careers, projects and progression opportunities available in the 21st century construction industry.
The current group, which was recruited last summer, includes many of the key skill sets required by the Stewart Milne Group as it implements an ambitious programme of growth within its homes divisions in Scotland and north-west England and its award-winning timber systems business with factories in Oxford and Aberdeen. They include six apprentice bricklayers, four apprentice joiners, two apprentice plumbers, an apprentice electrician’s mate and an apprentice roughcaster.
Apprenticeships with the Stewart Milne Group involve training on site and at college in the first three years, giving an apprentice the right mix of technical and practical skills. Trade apprentices then complete their fourth year on site. For their “at work” training each apprentice is also assigned a journeyman – an experienced tradesman who is their mentor – who works with them to develop their skills and confidence in their chosen role.
Karen Catto, Human Resources Director at Stewart Milne Group, says the apprenticeship programme has considerable benefits for the individuals on it and for the group as a whole.
“Apprenticeship training means that people gain the right skills for the job they want to do. It also enables people to earn while they are learning, which is attractive to many people today,” said Karen.
“As a business we find that the apprentices are keen, highly motivated people who want to learn and help our business to grow. The increasing age range within our 29-strong apprentice community also brings different perspectives and experiences into the business, which is very healthy, and demonstrates that more people are attracted to our industry because of the long-term prospects and good terms and conditions that we can offer them.
“Within the group we place great store on training and development and there are many examples of people have joined us as apprentices and ended up becoming senior managers or directors. As a privately-owned business we can recognise and reward talent and ensure that it is nurtured so people can progress as far as they are able or aspire to.
“For example, all our journeymen receive training in mentoring and development to ensure they are best-equipped to support their apprentices. They find this hugely beneficial as it develops their own people skills and they really take great pride in the achievements of their apprentices. It can be a really rewarding experience for everyone involved,” said Karen.
Since joining the Stewart Milne Group last summer, the first year apprentices are already seeing the benefits of the career route that they have chosen to follow.
Mark Lawson, a first year apprentice electrician, said: “I applied for my apprenticeship after deciding I wanted a career change, Stewart Milne Group presented the perfect opportunity to me as they had positions for adult apprentices. So far I have really enjoyed my training and have learned many new skills while receiving good pay and excellent benefits such as childcare vouchers.”
Lewis Marnoch, a first year apprentice plumber, said: “After trying out some plumbing in college I decided that I wanted to take up an apprenticeship to learn the trade. I was very keen to work for Stewart Milne Group as I knew of its reputation as a good company and place to work. Doing an apprenticeship gives you the chance to really make something of yourself and I would tell anyone considering a career in the trades to go for it as it is a great job to have.”
The Stewart Milne Group will start recruiting its 2015 intake of apprentices this summer.