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Apprenticeships provide business boost

As part of our support for National Apprenticeship Week 2022, we talk to Russell WBHO Construction Director John Millward about how the  apprenticeship programme benefits the business

#NAW2022 #AskAnEmployer

  • Date:
    08th Feb 2022
  • Category:

“We are always on the look-out for talent. It’s a given in this industry that, in order to be the best, you must have the best people, and we think we do.

“In the last 25 years we’ve brought together a fantastic team of construction professionals thanks to some excellent recruitment and a focus on training our team the ‘Russells way’.

“Our professional apprenticeship scheme, the Building Student programme, is the cornerstone of this and it benefits the business enormously.

“We’ve always had a strong track record in mentoring and supporting junior staff and many of our current senior management team have come through this way.

“Our staff retention rates are also excellent, providing stability and reassurance. This is testament to the strong teamwork ethos we have in the business, and the fact that many employees have trained and progressed with us over a long period and feel a genuine loyalty for the investment we have made in them.

“Our Building Student programme supports that strategy and builds the teams needed to continue taking the business forward.

“It supports our succession planning as we know those coming up the ranks are the well-trained professionals we need them to be, because we made them that way.

“The skills shortage is one of the largest challenges to our industry, but it is also the one that we have the most ability to influence by investing directly in the development of those skills.

“The programme is honestly fantastic, I wish I’d had the chance to do it. We even won an award for it from the University of Salford in 2020.

“We promote the scheme to students in schools and colleges across the region, demonstrating the wide range of opportunities available for a career in construction, with our staff and Building Students attending careers talks, speaking to young people directly.

“This helps to re-frame the negative perception some people can have of construction, particularly among young women.

“The personal touch and advocacy of female students already in the business has driven a marked increase in women applying for the programme, and we’re pleased to say the current make up of our trainees is 25% female, and growing.

“Recruits are enrolled onto a fully-funded part-time degree course at the University of Salford and also employed as junior team members with rotating placements at our HQ in Trafford Park, shadowing senior staff and working on live projects from day one.

“Bringing the university syllabus to life by working on real projects, and visiting different sites as often as possible, trainees experience placements in different areas of the business in the first two years before they specialise in Year Three.

“They then qualify at the end of Year Five in one of a number of professional as a quantity surveyor, estimator, site engineer, in site management, design management, or Health, Safety and Environmental.

“Training schemes like these are a real alternative to a traditional degree and provide a great opportunity to secure the same qualification as the degree-only route, with the benefit of genuine work experience, a paid wage and fees covered.

“I think more young people are coming to realise that construction is a well-paid and rewarding profession, with excellent career prospects, which offers people a unique ability to help shape the built environment around them.”

The Russell WBHO Building Student training programme opens for applications in October 2022. Keep an eye on our careers page for details of how to apply.

Pictured above: Year 1 Building Students Alfie, James, Grace, Elizabeth and Tom with Construction Director John Millward.