Construction companies are used to cyclical downturns, but the speed and strength with which COVID-19 has struck is unprecedented. Many small builders working across Bristol have been hit hard, with a very high number having to stop some or all of their work during the first lockdown. So this update is a ‘shout out’ for the Council’s On Site Bristol team who are playing a leading role in recovery efforts so that building firms can continue to find the talented people and skills they need to build back better! Darren Perkins, Apprenticeship Manager, is always strong on his numbers and his latest update on apprenticeship recruitment gives us much to celebrate:
321 apprentices are currently on programme
721 applications received from potential new recruits
397 assessments have been completed – including face to face and online
195 interviews have been carried out
136 conditional offers have been made
77 candidates have signed up so far – including a high proportion of 16-19 year olds
Providing so many young people with high quality training and work experience so they can build a positive career is our primary driver. On Site Bristol is also a strong inward investment vehicle for the city. Over the next two years, this recruitment will bring £1.6 million pounds of training resource into Bristol which will be spent locally on Bristol providers, keeping a huge number of people in employment and our local college fully occupied. An extra £450K of apprenticeship incentives are also being generated for companies to cover all the day to day apprenticeship essentials – including tools and insurance. Apprenticeship wages will generate a further £1.5 million, all of which enables a strong flow of income into the local economy.
It is not always easy to convey the incredible team work that lies behind these figures –– but here goes! Ian Moore has been an outstanding On Site Team Leader, working together with an amazing team of Training Officers (Louise Denning; Faye Johnson, Mark Parsons, Katrina Payne, Sherrilea Rickwood and Tracey Sperring). Each Training Officer has been supporting on average 70 apprentices on a daily basis. Everyone has a defined role and they have worked as one –– standing in and supporting each other with generosity and care when Covid related or other situations have arisen (for example childcare/elderly parent care etc.). Based at the Create Centre, the team have taken a respectful approach to using their office space, giving priority to those that need this most, including young apprentices across a number of ESL and other Council teams.
To achieve both business continuity and development, the On Site crew have embraced continuous innovation and adaptation of their operational model. Inductions have been completely changed combining face to face and online inductions across all trades: bricklaying, carpentry, electrical, painting and decorating, plastering and plumbing. The team have embraced new technology and people have been prepared to innovate and share. Assessment interviews had to be shut down in March – and there had to a rethink of how to sift through over 700 applications. The drive for continuous improvement never stops – this year the team trialled a new online assessment system – they made it work, they didn’t like it, and they’re determined now to do the work required to have a better system in place next year.
Flexibility and partnership are key features of the On Site way of working. Due to Covid impact, one large employer was forced to withdraw 20 apprenticeships and this meant marketing the available recruits to other local employers in a very reactive way. The team has had to work closely with training providers to deal with changing government guidelines, including reduction of class sizes and the shift to tutor assessments. Staff in the team have been flexible in taking on new roles, and also new team members have recently come on board to help share the workload – warm welcome to Ian Dark, new Training Officer, and Mairead McLoughlin, covering for Tiffany as our City Council Apprenticeship Team Leader.
So what next? Not deterred by the second phase lockdown, I was delighted when the team decided to proceed with their annual open evening event by moving this online, with Zoom sessions for parents, students and careers advisers. The event is being held on Monday 30th November at 4.30pm, and then repeated again at 6.00pm to allow participants to chose which session they attend.
If you would like to find out more about On Site, or you know of anyone who might be interested in a great career in the Construction Industry, it’s quick and easy to sign up by clicking on the following link:
I do hope to see you there,