Until recently, many developers saw apprenticeships and traineeships as a tick-box exercise – something to fill up a chapter in a social value report. That is an outdated view, which will hamper the progression of companies that hold it. Employment and training schemes are not a nice-to-have; they are a must-have, not only for developers but also for the long-term recovery of our economy.
Our industry faces a serious skills gap. We need to build up the learning and experiences to support the next generation into construction and development jobs.
It is not only the trainees who benefit, either. In 2020, EcoWorld London launched our pre-employment training scheme in Hounslow in response to soaring unemployment rates in the borough during the pandemic. We offer a four-week programme to unemployed Hounslow residents (including a two-week placement working on our Kew Bridge project), which equips them with the certifications, hands-on skills and experience needed to work on a construction site.
In just over a year of running the scheme we have been blown away by the positive impact it has had on our employees and subcontractors who work directly with the trainees. They have developed mentoring and coaching skills and gained a huge sense of satisfaction from the feeling that they are giving back to the community.
We also truly believe that hiring people who have come from traineeships only enhances the long-term health of our business as well as local employment and the economy. People who join a company following one of these types of schemes are more likely to stay there long-term than others, studies have shown. Aside from this ‘loyalty bonus’, there is the increased productivity that comes from having a more skilled workforce. Research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that the average apprenticeship graduate increases business productivity by £214 per week.