05 Feb 2024
With a career that began with a bricklaying apprenticeship, Caddick Construction Group’s Managing Director, Paul Dodsworth, knows first hand the true value of this training route. This National Apprenticeship Week Paul shares his thoughts on workplace training, its long term benefits for the industry and the importance of delivering quality on-the-job training.
Construction apprenticeships have been the cornerstone of training in the industry for as long as any of us can remember, the main reason being that learning on-the-job is the best way to gain practical skills. I started my career as a bricklayer apprentice, and while my day job doesn’t often find me with a trowel in my hand, the skills I learned are with me for life and I relish every chance I get to go back to my bricklaying roots. I’m proud of the career I’ve built, but I owe a lot to the people that trained me. They gave me their time and attention, saw my potential and helped me on my path. That investment made the difference to me, and I’m very passionate about giving the same to the next generation.
Plugging the skills shortage with building and construction apprenticeships
The real beauty of construction apprenticeships is their mutual benefit. For the apprentice, they earn and learn at the same time, giving them the best of both worlds. For the employer, they have someone in their team that can add value and often apprentices bring fresh ideas, creative thinking and a lot of enthusiasm to the table. Both sides gain from apprenticeships but that is only true if both keep up their side of the deal. As with most things, if you put in hard graft, you reap the rewards. If an employer isn’t investing the time in upskilling their apprentice, or if an apprentice doesn’t have a hunger to learn, then the whole apprenticeship model falls down.
Our industry is reliant on high-quality training. We know we have a skills shortage, and we also know this will get worse if we don’t do something about it. The solution here is always having a long-term view, and that isn’t always easy when you’re dealing with the task that’s immediately in front of you. Take for instance an apprentice out on site; they have daily tasks to complete that are integral to project delivery. Those tasks are important, no doubt of that, but what’s much more important is that each day on site develops their skills. We must nurture, mentor and guide, and we must never let our day jobs get in the way of that.
Fuelling construction apprenticeship jobs
Having apprenticeships as part of your training strategy and business culture is one thing, being able to provide the opportunities is another. As a strong regional contractor, the opportunity to offer apprenticeships is a huge privilege we never take for granted. On every single one of our projects we look at where we can support workplace training, whether that’s apprenticeships or short-term work experience. Often apprenticeships are directly employed by our business, but we also help support apprenticeships through our supply chain. When training becomes collaborative in this way, we are able to take apprenticeships to a new level. We create a future workforce that is equipped for what the industry needs.
It’s also really important that we provide variety in our training. When many people think of construction apprenticeships, they think of practical trades such as carpentry or bricklaying. Alongside these trades, we need to support construction management apprentices, engineering apprentices, design apprentices, and everything in between. We’re building the next generation for construction, and to achieve this, we always need to think about the bigger picture.
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