Lynch paves the way with pioneering apprenticeship scheme
We’re proud to announce that we’ve filled all the places in our inaugural apprenticeship scheme. Working in partnership with the Construction Industry Training Board at Bircham Newton, we’re giving ten aspiring plant operators, HGV fitters and plant fitters the opportunity to train with us as apprentices.
Read on to discover more about what we’re looking for in an apprentice, and why the scheme is so important to the future of the construction industry.
We need to take action now to fill the skills gap in the construction industry
Our apprenticeship scheme is the first of its kind, and one that is desperately needed by the construction industry in the UK.
There’s already a major skills gap, and – with nearly 20% of construction workers due to retire within the next ten years – the problem is set to intensify. In particular, the construction industry is facing a huge shortage of qualified plant operators.
While there have been apprenticeships in other trades – plasterers and electricians, for example – for many years, the construction industry hasn’t had this tradition. What’s more, operating plant isn’t something that we’re taught to aspire to as children. But this negative perception is something we’re determined to change.
There’s currently a great demand for construction industry apprenticeships
Our Assistant Operations Manager, Liam Moore, was instrumental in setting up the scheme and recruiting candidates. He speaks passionately about the need and the demand for construction apprenticeships: ‘When I finished college, I’d have loved to have gone into a scheme of this kind. But there was nothing out there.’
The scheme generated a huge amount of interest, with 80 applicants for the 10 positions. After assessing the applications, we shortlisted 25 candidates, and interviewed them via Skype. Then we invited the 15 strongest in to try out the machinery. And from that, we found our 10. 6 are training to be operators, 2 HGV fitters and 2 plant fitters.
Most of the candidates are 16 or 17 years old and fresh out of school or college. But we’re also really pleased to have recruited two individuals who really needed a fresh start, after a difficult early life.
All of our new recruits share our passion for plant
What’s the most important quality in an operator or fitter? Enthusiasm for the job. If you’re going to have a successful career in construction, a passion for machinery is a prerequisite.
Apprentices will share their time between our premises in Stanmore, Middlesex and Dartford, and the National Construction College in Bircham Newton. The apprenticeship lasts for a year, at the end of which the recruits will become full time, newly-qualified Lynch employees.
At Lynch, our highly qualified plant operators (http://www.l-lynch.com/safety/) are a huge part of who we are. We want the best, and those who are in it for the long haul.
Liam Moore thinks we need to alter perceptions to attract, recruit and keep the right candidates. Operating heavy plant is a lucrative and satisfying career choice. For example, as a dozer driver – one of the areas where there’s an alarming shortage of skill due to the majority of current drivers now being over the age of 50 – the earning potential is huge.
However, there are a huge number of skilled operators who aren’t using their qualifications. While some inevitably move into management, others end up leaving the industry altogether and this needs to change.
The scheme is an investment for the future of the construction industry
We see the scheme as an investment. Not just in the future of the recruits, or of Lynch as a company, but in the future of the construction industry as a whole.
Ultimately, the scheme will lead to more qualified plant operators. This will be a huge benefit to customers, who are often unable to complete projects to schedule because of the lack of available operators.
Liam believes that this year’s scheme is a showcase: ‘Next year, we’d love to have 20 apprentices, and 30 the year after that.’ And the future? ‘An onsite training facility,’ predicts Liam, ‘and fully qualified operators whenever and wherever they’re needed.’