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Award finalist building a brighter future with construction apprentices

Tailoring bespoke training models to plug the widening skills gap in the construction industry has led to one Swansea-based company creating its own careers pathway.

Through its ‘Persimmon Way’ philosophy, around 150 new job opportunities have been created both for apprentices starting out on their careers and also for those looking to retrain and enter the construction sector.

In partnership with Bridgend College, Persimmon Homes West Wales believes that the organic growth of in-house resource and career progression opportunities is helping the company to recruit and retain the very best local talent and to ensure a sustainable business model.

In recognition of its commitment to apprentices, Persimmon Homes West Wales has been shortlisted for the Large and Macro Employer of the Year Award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on November 10.

The awards highlight the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.

Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor for the third year is Openreach.

Since 2017, the company said that apprentice bricklayers have built more than 90 homes as well as numerous external walls and garages, while in the past 12 months, apprentice carpenters have erected and completed 48 Space 4 Homes – the company’s unique, timber frame system.

“Through organic growth, we are bridging the supply chain gap,” said Carl Davey, regional quality director with Persimmon Homes.

“There was a severe labour shortage within the house building industry to meet the significant demand. Consequently, Persimmon Homes embarked upon a major training initiative to produce tradespeople in the short to medium term.

“The resulting partnership model established in partnership with Bridgend College could become the blueprint for similar models across our other UK sites.”

Learners of all ages, no matter their background, can find an entry point via the college into a Persimmon apprenticeship programme. From there, they can forge their career through a transparent ladder of apprenticeship opportunities from trades at Levels 2 and 3 through to becoming the Persimmon leaders of the future through the Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4) in Site Management.

The joint venture has led to the Persimmon Homes Academy opening on a development site in Llanilid, close to the college. This enables apprentices to be trained in a “live” Persimmon site environment whilst allowing college staff to become embedded within ‘The Persimmon Way’.

“Our partnership with Persimmon Homes is offering inclusive apprenticeship career opportunities in an area of Wales that has been severely affected by job losses from the steel and automotive industries,” said Matthew Williams, Bridgend College’s executive director of work-based learning.

“We are able to truly tailor the delivery of apprenticeships to meet the competencies, behaviours and values that will enable them to succeed long term with Persimmon and in the construction sector.”

Congratulating Persimmon Homes and all the other shortlisted finalists, Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said: “Apprenticeships make a huge contribution to our economy and will be crucial as Wales continues to bounce back from the pandemic.

“They can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce, offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills.

“As part of our Young Person’s Guarantee, the Welsh Government will be investing £366 million over the next three years to deliver 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales during the current term of government.

“We want to increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and improve their lives. The investment will also help tackle skills shortages and gaps in priority sectors critical to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting our net zero ambitions, the every-day foundational economy and public services.”

The Apprenticeship Programme is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund. For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: https://gov.wales/apprenticeships-genius-decision or call 03000 603000.

Regional quality director with Persimmon Homes Carl Davey with some of the company’s apprentices.

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