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25 March 2024

Prentisiaethau: Dull Rhagweithiol o Ddiogelu Diwydiannau at y Dyfodol


Nick Revell is managing director of Ledwood, an independent engineering, fabrication and construction company specialising in the delivery of complex projects across the oil, gas, process and energy industries.

Starting out his working life as an apprentice himself, Nick opens up about benefits of apprenticeships from a business leadership perspective as a way of ensuring strategic workforce planning.

“At Ledwood, we run an extensive apprenticeship programme and have done for a long time. We look at the gaps within our business and align our strategy by looking at the sectors we’re involved in. That helps us to plan for any challenges and demands in the future.

“We also look internally to see what our skillsets are currently, and what gaps we have, and we regularly undertake a training needs analysis to determine whether we need our existing staff to be upskilled in a certain area, or if we need to bring in new recruits to specialise and help plug those gaps.

“We use apprenticeships as a mechanism to fill our skills gaps, while recognising that the qualifications typically take three to four years to complete, so it’s absolutely something that we need to continually look at from a forward planning perspective as they’re a long-term quality investment for us.

“As part of this, we ensure that the apprentices we recruit fill the skills gaps that we anticipate the business may have in the future.”

Ledwood works closely with Pembrokeshire College to recruit and train either year one or year two grade apprentices, the former typically being school leavers and the latter being mature apprentices or those with some transferrable skills or qualifications already.

“Traditionally, we may have thought of apprentices just as youngsters, but we’ve also had some fantastic older apprentices over the years who have entered into the business as new recruits who have brought a wealth of knowledge and skills to the table too.”

Nick also stresses the importance of using apprenticeships to upskill existing staff, noting that several employees have undergone apprenticeships and degree level apprenticeships whilst remaining in the business.

“Those higher-level qualifications have been invaluable to helping our current workforce learn new skills or update their knowledge on new technologies and ways of working. Employers can really benefit from using apprenticeships and the financial support that comes with them to retain and upskill their current staff, giving them opportunities to progress and learn more while also keeping a valued member of their team and keeping their knowledge within the business.”

Nick’s own experience of apprenticeships began when he left school and joined BP as an apprentice himself. Moving up the career into management, he reflects on his varied experiences from a career that’s seen him work for several major international companies.

“I’ve been fortunate to experience a lot within my career so far, having worked for international organisations. From a management and future-proofing perspective, it’s clear that apprenticeships have become more prominent in their value to companies and are now really being seen as a key strategic tool in labour succession planning.

“Through various assignments overseas in different international locations, I’ve seen a wide range of apprenticeship experiences. At one time, I was working in the Middle East to help plug a skills shortage in a particular specialism out there. Now however, the focus has shifted to a shortage of skilled resource in the UK and apprenticeships are key in helping to tackle that and ensure we have a new generation of workers who are equipped to deal with the challenges of the future.

“In the construction industry in particular, we’ve had to look ahead very carefully at the coming years in terms of skills in the UK following the pandemic and Brexit, as well as looking ahead to being greener and working towards net zero. It means we’re heavily investing in our people, as well as looking ahead to the next generation of UK-based skills, and how we can meet the demands of the future with home-grown talent.”

Thanks to years of investing in apprenticeships, Nick can speak confidently about the benefits to business leaders of these types of qualifications to help them future proof their own organisations, and offers his top pieces of advice:

“I would say to any business that’s serious about planning the future of their business in a strategic way, apprenticeships are vitally important in succession planning and in helping to plug skills gaps.

“They give you a competitive advantage both in terms of the skills your workforce has, but also the capacity you’ll have to deliver your work over the next five to ten years into the future.

“My best piece of advice for businesses beginning their apprenticeship journey is to spend time planning out the areas you think your business needs to grow in and then ensure you have a good relationship with training providers and the colleges you work with as part of the apprenticeship process.

“Look at the end result you’re after and then work backwards, thinking about the skills and pool of resource you currently have on offer and how you’re going to retain and upskill your existing team as well as hire fresh new talent – you’ll be surprised how often the answer is through an apprenticeship.”

Interested in finding out more about apprenticeships for your business? Know the facts:

Employers in Wales with an annual pay bill of £3 million or more pay into the Apprenticeship Levy, charged at 0.5% of their annual pay bill. The Welsh Government delivers its Apprenticeship Programme via the Welsh apprenticeship provider network and is driven by the needs of the Welsh economy and communities.

As part of the Welsh Government’s support for employers, Business Wales Recruit and Train provides comprehensive support to address businesses' skills, training, and recruitment needs, including a variety of programmes such as apprenticeships.

Its campaign, We’re in Your Corner, helps to raise awareness of the range of support available to employers to help them achieve their business goals.

For further information, search ‘Business Wales: We're in Your Corner,' contact 03000 6 03000, or go to https://businesswales.gov.wales/skillsgateway/were-in-your-corner


 



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