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Celebrating seven years of Y Prentis!

12th September 2019

As we celebrate our seventh birthday, it’s also a been a great time for me to reflect on my first year as the Programme Manager for Y Prentis. It’s been both an exciting and enjoyable year working with a great team who are committed to building a fit for purpose, sustainable programme with the support of our collaborative industry partners. Here’s some of our achievements from over the last year.

Our business strategy

One of our first challenges was to set out how Y Prentis was going to grow and evolve to meet the recruitment challenges faced by the industry today. We spent a lot of time identifying what our priorities should be and what actions we needed to take to achieve these. We agreed on eight interdependent priorities which focus on attracting and delivering apprenticeships for talented people and creating sustainable opportunities from a strong partnership base, which you can read more about here.

Recruitment and retainment of apprentices

We spent a lot of time reviewing our recruitment process and the service we provide to our apprentices, identifying potential issues and introducing new ways of working to overcome them. Examples of these include the creation of our expression of interest process, which has helped us increase the number of apprentices we employ by 26%. We have also revamped our apprenticeship offer, increasing our apprentices’ wages and introducing incentives for them to complete their qualifications.

Several of our apprentices have also celebrated award successes at both regional and national levels. Celebrating the hard work and dedication of our apprentices is important to us, and you can read more about these nominations in our news section.

One of the highlights of the year has been the launch of our Apprentice Advisory Panel. Launched in December 2018, the panel was designed to give our apprentices the opportunity to influence how the scheme is run and have their say on future plans. Following three panel meetings, the group has played a key role in:

  • Redesigning our promotional material aimed at students and job seekers
  • Creating an NVQ mandatory unit checklist to support new apprentices
  • Forming a code of conduct
  • Introducing new communication channels, such as a monthly newsletter for current apprentices
  •  Revising what we include in our new starter toolkits
  • Increasing apprentice wages and introducing a bonus

The panel has helped us strengthen our relationship with our apprentices and moving forward I hope more apprentices will take up the opportunity to get involved and have their say on the running of the scheme.

Our relationship with our partners

As a team we revised our current partner offer, looking at what we do well, how we can improve and ways in which we can promote our services to new contractors. Over the last 12 months, we have:

  • Introduced our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to outline the roles and responsibilities of both our partners and Y Prentis
  • Increased attendance at our Partner Advisory Panel, which has influenced strategic decisions made by our Board
  • Introduced a bi-monthly e-newsletter for contractors
  • Held a breakfast morning for new partners
  • Signed 25 new hosting contractors with partners we haven’t worked with before
  • Hosted a one-day mentoring training session with CITB, Cyfle Building Skills and Mentors for Life to support industry recruits

Valleys Taskforce area

Thanks to additional funding from the Welsh Government, we have increased the number of apprentices we recruit within the Valleys Taskforce area to 31 and introduced new marketing and engagement tools. These tools have enabled us to raise our brand awareness and engage more effectively with our stakeholders. Some of our achievements include:

  • Launched a brand-new website, making information more accessible to stakeholders and providing a platform to promote examples of our partnership working and the achievements of our apprentices.
  • Strengthened our relationship with colleges, running session talks with college learners and supporting a range of career activities.
  • Built a bank of case studies to showcase what our past apprentices have achieved and highlight what our current apprentices are doing.
  • Raised our brand awareness, both within the local communities we serve and online
  • Created tailored communication materials for a range of stakeholders

Expanding our services

Working with training providers, we have been able to provide courses that meet the demands of today’s industry. In January we launched our drylining trades with Coleg y Cymoedd, and in March we introduced a one-year groundworks apprenticeship course with ARC Academy. We have also expanded our portfolio to support wall and floor tiling apprenticeships.

We have also expanded our community benefit consultancy services, working in partnership with Interserve to deliver community benefits within the localities of the Prince Charles Hospital development in Merthyr Tydfil and the Sixth Form College development in Cwmbran. During the development of both projects, Y Prentis is the first point of contact for a range of stakeholders, including Torfaen CBC, SEWSCAP, Skills Academy, local training providers, educational establishments and welfare to work agents. Together we will be delivering a number of community engagement events to ensure that local people are fully engaged with the developments and their progress.

The Y Prentis team

I would like to take the opportunity to thank those we work with - our partners, clients, colleges and support agencies - for their ongoing support. Without them, the scheme wouldn’t have been able to achieve what it has. There is lots of big and exciting projects being delivered by our partners in 2020, and through continued collaborative work I’m excited to see what the next year brings for Y Prentis.