Shared Apprenticeships, How do They Work?

Have you ever heard of Shared Apprenticeships? No? Well neither had we but if you want an apprentice but can’t commit to the full training period they might just be for you! We caught up with Nadia Connabeer from Shared Apprenticeships South West to find out more…..

Hi! If you don’t already know of me I am Nadia, I live in beautiful South Devon and now help mentor and recruit apprentices through their construction-based apprenticeships.

Why? Well, I started a fulltime Furniture Making course at Bridgwater College in 2012 after hating sixth form. I then started an apprenticeship in Bench Joinery and after 4 years I left with; a level 3 diploma in Furniture Making and Design and level 3 NVQ and diploma in Advanced Craft Bench Joinery. After this I worked for 2 years as a Bench Joiner but soon found myself longing for a new challenge. At college I did well, I was entered in a lot of competitions and always found myself helping and encouraging others.

In October 2017 I was approached by Peter Elmes, owner of Elmes Construction, who informed me of a position at Shared Apprenticeships South West (SASW) and said that I would be perfect for the role. Although I didn’t get the job I applied for (business development lead, now headed up by John McColl) they did offer me my current position as Apprentice Mentor and Recruitment Coordinator. – Which was much better suited to me!

A couple months later my notice was handed in, tools all packed up and I was very excited for my new challenge.

Although it took a while to adjust from being in a workshop full of banter and hands on work to mainly office-based work it was a great change! My daily/weekly duties involve; uploading job adverts, scanning CVs, telephone and 1-2-1 interviews, designing marketing materials, attending college, contractor and careers events and most importantly looking after our current apprentices. This includes inducting them before they start working for us, visiting them every 10 weeks onsite, making sure they are doing well there and in college and looking at what they might like to do after their apprenticeship.

Apprentices from Shared Apprenticeships South West meet at Dillington House, Somerset.
From left – Mentors Nadia Connabeer and Julia Coulton, Business Lead John McColl and Programme Manager Emma Norton.

SASW are a shared scheme within the South West. We currently have apprentices in; Bristol, Bridgwater, Salisbury, Bournemouth, Exeter and Plymouth. (Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon)

The point of the shared scheme is that you (as a construction company) do not have to commit to having an apprentice for the full 2 years of their apprenticeship. I often use this example; Dave is a one-man band Carpenter, he has a load of work on for the next 6 months but around Christmas and New Year he doesn’t know what is happening or where his work might be, but he would really like an apprentice. We, as a shared scheme, can place an apprentice with him for a minimum of 13 weeks and after that Dave could either extend his contract with us to have the apprentice for a longer time, take the apprentice on directly, or we end the host contract and then it is our job to find the apprentice another host company.

Having an apprentice through a shared scheme has a lot of benefits, these include;

  • No payroll is needed
  • No pension scheme needed
  • We manage the recruitment to your specifications then bring the best candidates to meet you.
  • We provide PPE
  • We provide a starter tool kit
  • Flexibility of how long you would like the apprentice for (minimum of 13weeks)
  • A safety net in case you don’t get along or you are short on work
  • We sort the apprentice’s college
  • The apprentice is covered under our insurance
  • We pay for the apprentices HS&E test and CSCS card before starting if required
  • A simple weekly fee which you will be invoiced for monthly

I’m seeing some great quality apprentices coming through whether they are straight out of GCSE’s, have done a full-time course already or are slightly older and would like a career change. It would be great if we could get more companies involved in having apprentices because we all know that the industry is crying out for skilled labour. Even if you can’t have an apprentice for the full 2/3 years, you could be a great step on the ladder for them career wise.

We think this could be the best chance we have of filling the skills gap that just continues to widen, it provides a great way forward for construction businesses that have worried about qualifying for the CITB Grant Funded apprenticeships, to find out more about Shared Apprenticeships South West click https://www.swsharedapprenticeships.com/about/ For more information about the CITB and to see if there are Shared Apprenticeship Schemes in your area click here https://www.citb.co.uk/citb-apprenticeships/shared-apprenticeship-scheme/shared-apprenticeship-scheme/

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