Aptus Utilities’ ‘employee of the future’ apprenticeship scheme

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apprenticeship schemes

As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, Aptus Utilities provide insight into their award winning ‘employee of the future’ apprenticeship scheme

Just a few decades ago, it could be said that apprenticeship schemes in the construction industry had a poor perception with stories of apprentices being at the butt of jokes. For many, being sent for a ‘long weight’ was a rite of passage.

Apprenticeship schemes in the construction sector have changed drastically, and for the better. At Aptus Utilities, based in Bolton with sites spread across the UK, everyone recognises the value and the essential part of the company that the apprentices make – they are seen as the employee of the future.

The company welcomed its first Business Administration Apprentice in 2012, with the Aptus Multi-Utility Apprenticeship scheme launching in 2015, and now 37 employees out of its workforce of over 300 people started as an apprentice.

MD at Aptus, Lisa Kerford explains: “Whilst all our employees play an important role, our apprentices are crucial to ensuring the future of not just Aptus, but the industry as a whole.

“Apprentices help us grow our business of the future. When the current workforce is due to retire, we will have ready-developed skilled workers who are trained in our high standards of project delivery and ready to take over. Apprenticeships are a fantastic route into a career in the construction industry.”

Aptus’ approach

Aptus recognises that in order to future-proof its business there is a requirement for both business administration apprentices and construction apprentices.

As a young, dynamic and ambitious organisation, there’s plenty of scope for apprentices to develop new skills and advance their career. After beginning life in 2010 with one employee, Aptus now employs more than 300, which is testament to the success of its responsive and versatile business model.

Aptus developed its pioneering multi utility two-year apprenticeship scheme back in 2015. It combines on the job training and classroom learning, delivered by further education college Utility & Construction Training (UCT). The course leads to nationally recognised qualifications. Modern construction techniques are further explored at college. Apprentices are trained with a multi-skill approach, so they understand all elements of utility connections.

Aptus Utilities Business Administration Apprentices are sourced through training providers, Alliance Learning, Bolton College and Performance Through People. They are mentored through on-the-job training at any one of the company’s depots across the country, where they work towards their qualifications. Apprentices have the option to progress on to higher levels of learning and are actively encouraged to specialise in chosen areas of the business to advance their career.

Eleanor Kirkpatrick started as an apprentice in business administration in 2014 and then progressed to a full-time, permanent job as a Lead Estimator, supervising a team of 10 Business Development colleagues.

Jack, a H&S apprentice commented: “I knew I wanted a career in Health and Safety, but I really didn’t know where to start. I was keen to get working, and I felt that going through the university route wasn’t really my thing either.

“I applied to the Apprenticeship Scheme in 2019 year as it came highly recommended and I’ve had a really thorough learning experience whilst at Aptus. The skills I learnt were incredible and with the added bonus of getting time to study in the classroom at college and I got paid during all my training.

“Today, I’m now a trainee health and safety advisor department loving my role. Aptus have continued to invest in me, beyond me completing my apprenticeship and I am due to start on my NEBOSH in March, an internationally recognised course, that will provide me with fundamental health and safety knowledge to help with my day to day responsibilities.”

Now firmly established, the Aptus Apprenticeship Scheme has won several accolades. Although, MD Lisa Kerford is keen to stress that the scheme is about nurturing and developing young people and not about gathering awards.

Lisa comments: “Whilst it’s wonderful to win the awards and I know it gives a sense of confidence to our apprentice applicants, our scheme is purely and simply about nurturing and developing young people for future careers ensuring that our business is sustainable.”

On the future of Apprenticeships at Aptus, Natasha Clarke, people director at Aptus states: “2022 will be an exciting year for Aptus and for apprentices. Historically, our utility apprenticeship scheme has had an intake every two years, however, due to ambitious growth plans and the success of the previous and current schemes, 2022 will see another intake, just one year after the last. We will be looking to recruit into our growing regions, with a particular focus on the Midlands area.

“Business Administration apprentices will continue to be key to the success of the business and ongoing recruitment for these apprentices will continue throughout 2022. Aptus will also be exploring the option of adding other apprentices to the business, with an additional finance apprentice and warehousing apprentice being considered for the future.”

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