The Importance of Apprentices ...

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The Importance of Apprentices in the Plant Hire Sector by Haydn Steele, Safety & Training Manager, Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA)

Apprentices are becoming increasingly important in the plant hire industry, with a multitude of benefits for both employers and employees alike. Recruiting apprentices enables plant hire companies to fill skills gaps and develop specialist knowledge that could potentially affect their bottom line. By the same token, apprentices benefit from structured learning, on-the-job training and ongoing support from employers.

At the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), we are firm believers in developing and training young people on structured programmes, and this was a key driver as to why we introduced our Stars of the Future initiative some three years ago. Stars of the Future is an awards scheme for apprentices in the plant hire and wider construction industry and we hold an annual event, in conjunction with the CITB and UK colleges, offering plant mechanic apprentice training.

Apprentices are assessed throughout the academic year, on both their work in college and their work environment, and there are separate prize schemes for Level 2 and Level 3 apprentices, at both regional and national level. The 2015 Stars of the Future event was recently held at Plantworx, in Bruntingthorpe, and it was fantastic to see a great turnout from well over 300 construction plant apprentices from all around the country.

The event allowed us to celebrate the successes of some of the country’s most talented construction plant apprentices, and we were very pleased to present a total of 19 regional awards and two national awards. The national accolades went to Paige Carter from A-Plant’s Stockton Powered Access depot, for Level 2, and Darragh Spencer from Randall Orchard Construction, for Level 3.

The calibre of entrants really went through the roof for this year’s awards and it was a very difficult job choosing the winners, but Paige and Darragh really were exceptional candidates. Paige is our first ever female winner of a Stars of the Future Award, so for her to win both a regional award and the overall national award, is outstanding. It is well documented that there is a shortage of female apprentices in the construction sector, so Paige is a shining example for females who are seeking to enter our sector.

It was also particularly gratifying to present the national Level 3 award to Darragh. Darragh has actually scored a double as he won the Level 2 national prize in 2014. Since his 2014 Stars of the Future award, he’s progressed to become a Plant Manager and Buyer, so the progress he has already made, so far, in his career, is to be commended.

The construction plant hire sector is worth over £4 billion and has over 200,000 operators, so there are huge opportunities for young people. The apprentices who attended Stars of the Future are at the start of their career and will play a crucial role not only in our industry, but UK plc as a whole.

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Thanks for explaining how apprentices are in short supply. A friend of mine works as an apprentice for an access equipment company running a forklift. I'll have to show her this article and see what she says. Thanks for sharing!

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