Meet our Host Partner

Willmott Dixon – Main Contractor

21 May 2021

Background

Willmott Dixon is a privately-owned contracting and interior fit-out group. Founded in 1852, when John Willmott undertook his first contract for the sum of £1. Since then, Willmott Dixon has grown into a £1 billion business that remains privately-owned.

This family run business is dedicated to leaving a positive legacy in our communities and environment and in 2014 they won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for sustainable development, underlining its impeccable environment credentials.

Willmott Dixon joined forces with Y Prentis back in December 2012, when their sub-contractor, Millisun Brickwork Limited, hosted their first Y Prentis apprentice, Nathan Pryde – who was a bricklaying apprentice. Since then they have gone on to host a total of 52 apprentices, over 21 of their sites and contributed to an amazing 1341 apprenticeship weeks spanning the partnership. Sub-contractors on the list, include: Millisun Brickwork Limited, T&G Carpentry and Birkemp.

Why are Community Benefits and TR&R Important to your company?

Our purpose is to deliver brilliant buildings, transform lives, strengthen communities, and enhance the environment so our world is fit for future generations. Providing opportunities and investing in people is a key part of this. We want to ensure that our projects have the greatest social impact in the communities in which they are located.

Why do you encourage your subcontractors to host apprentices on Willmott Dixon sites?

It is important to us that opportunities are maximised and fulfilled wherever possible. For most of our supply chain partners, supporting the development of apprentices is nothing new however, for some of our smaller SCPs this isn’t necessarily a resource they can provide. Supporting the growth of our smaller SCPs is important to us, that’s why we resource and encourage our SCPs to support apprentices.

You partnered up with Y Prentis over 8 years ago now, in 2012. Why did you choose to get involved with Y Prentis initially?

We initially partnered with Y Prentis to ensure we maximised the accessibility of our opportunities across our projects. Y Prentis have proven to be a reliable and resourceful scheme supporting the values of our business and helping us fill the opportunities on our projects.

How has Y Prentis helped you to fulfil your community benefit targets?

Utilising the scheme has supported both our internal and framework specific KPIs. More importantly it is great that we are able to work with the scheme to provide opportunities on our projects. Mentoring and resourcing apprentices not only helps us to fulfil our community benefits requirements, it is something that we are committed to as a business. The apprentices have has also supported the professional growth of our people and supply chain partners.

Why are apprenticeships important to you and/or to the construction industry?

Apprenticeships are important within today’s society, regardless of sector. For us, apprenticeships are important since this pathway provides meaningful exposure to the world of work, helping to prepare learners for their future careers. Apprenticeships are a good way of people being able to build essential skills while they earn, while addressing the skills shortages that exist. Ultimately, we need to ensure that there are many routes into a rewarding career in construction and apprenticeships are a great way to provide both practical training and learning at the same time.

How has your experience thus far been, working with Y Prentis?

What is the most satisfying part of hosting an apprentice?

Everyone benefits by hosting an apprentice. It is very rewarding to know that you are providing opportunity and learning for someone and equally it is good for our people to have the experience of working with an apprentice. Our teams find it really satisfying when they know that they have helped someone onto the construction career ladder.

What is the most challenging part of hosting an apprentice?

Challenges come in different forms and these are often dependent on the learner. Transparency and overcoming challenges together is what works best for us.

What advice would you give to other companies considering hosting an apprentice?

You will find reward in supporting those starting out in their careers. The main thing to consider is the mentor, ensuring they have the resources and qualities to offer the apprentice a meaningful and impactful
experience…this relationship is two‐way in terms of trust and respect.

What advice would you give a young person that is interested in taking up an apprenticeship? What attributes do you look for in your apprentices?

The advantages of an apprenticeship speak for themselves. For us, an apprenticeship is a pathway that offers real life experiences – the opportunity to grow not only as a skilled professional but as a person too. Attributes that are important to us are honesty and drive, demonstrating an enthusiasm to learn and succeed.

Meet our Apprentice – Branden Woodland

Y Prentis carpentry apprentice, Branden Woodland, worked on one of Willmott Dixon’s sites (HSDU in Torfaen), whilst being hosted by their sub-contractor T&G Carpentry for a total duration of 15 weeks, from January 2021 till March 2021. We recently interviewed Branden to find out how his apprenticeship is progressing. You can read his full story HERE.

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