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Share your story – Y Prentis: Boosting confidence in the shared-apprenticeship model

25th November 2021

In September 2021, Y Prentis made the final shortlist for Best Apprenticeship Programme in The Investors in People Awards 2021 and in preparation for these awards, we submitted a 'Share your Story', which was published on their website. You can view the submission below, or you can view the original article on the Investors in People website HERE. Below you will also find a short video clip, recorded with Y Prentis Programme manager, Darryl Williams, explaining why we entered The Investors in People Awards 2021.

The winners were announced on the 23rd of November 2021, and although we didn't win, we felt very proud to have our name mentioned as a finalist - especially when considering it was a record-breaking year for entries, with nearly three hundred organisations involved.

Share your story – Y Prentis: Boosting confidence in the shared-apprenticeship model

Y Prentis is a construction based shared apprenticeship scheme operating across South East Wales. Funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Welsh Government, they employ apprentices across many construction trades to meet the needs of today’s construction industry.

The mobile nature of the construction sector means the shared model is an invaluable tool to assist in capturing apprenticeship opportunities which would not happen by utilising the traditional apprenticeship approach.

By pooling off shorter-term work opportunities and providing apprentices with varied experience with a wide range of host contractors, Y Prentis utilises several projects and delivers sustainable apprenticeships that add value and address a need in the market.

We caught up with Y Prentis’ Programme Manager, Darryl Williams, about what winning an award would mean to them and what the future holds for Y Prentis.

Can you give us a brief description of your company and how you’re making work better?

By Y Prentis continually offering employment for the full term of the apprenticeship, we guarantee apprentices are not displaced when projects come to an end in a community, keeping them local by creating good jobs closer to home.

Providing local work opportunities is also beneficial to the environment as it reduces travelling, reduces that person’s carbon footprint, aligning itself with the Carbon Zero agenda.

Our passion is to close the skills gap within the construction industry and create local jobs for local people. We are extremely proud that we have achieved a 100% success rate for Completer Apprentices moving into full-time employment.

We highlight this in our 2020/2021 annual report and will continue to strive to maintain this success rate whilst actively promoting their physical and mental well-being.

Why did you enter The Investors in People Awards 2021?

We pride ourselves on being a people-focused company – one that holds the wellbeing of our employees and apprentices in very high regard. We have recently obtained a dedicated Apprenticeship Coordinator who provides all our apprentices with pastoral care on an ongoing basis throughout the apprentices’ journey to ensure our apprentices complete their framework qualification on time and their wellbeing is monitored, and assistance is provided where required.

Winning the award will mean that we will obtain formal recognition for our ongoing efforts. It will go a long way in strengthening and reinforcing our reputation within the construction industry as an apprenticeship company that is truly dedicated to our apprentices’ well-being and success.

Are there any goals or challenges you hope an award will help you achieve or solve?

We hope that winning this award will boost confidence in the construction industry to hire more apprentices through the shared-apprenticeship model, which will increase the number of apprenticeship opportunities we can make available to young people within the South East Wales area.

This, in turn, will increase our ability to train more apprentices. Ultimately have a greater impact on creating local jobs for local people and closing the skills gap within the construction industry.

Furthermore, it will demonstrate our focus on continuous improvement and will assist the company in demonstrating the model is effective and can be utilised in other industry sectors.

Tell us what distinguishes you from other companies in the category you’re shortlisted in.

Our team consists of only half a dozen team members who oversee over 45+ apprentices. Our passion, drive and dedication are evident in the fact that we have achieved a 100% success rate for Completer Apprentices moving into full-time employment as highlighted in our 2020/2021 annual report and will continue to strive to maintain this success rate.

Our shared apprenticeship delivery model, which entails rotating apprentices between several host contractors, means we must place a greater emphasis on their mentoring and pastoral care.

Our dynamic model allows for apprentices to move to where the work is the closest to home and gives a diverse variety of experiences in many different facets of the industry instead of a relatively limited experience with a single contractor.

Subsequently, they cover a wider range of work and have a long interview with contractors, which stands them in good stead when they complete their apprenticeship and move into employment as a qualified tradesperson.

We are the first apprenticeship company in Wales to be awarded the We invest in people apprentices accreditation, by Investors in People, following our successful inclusion in their pilot phase, which was rolled out in November 2020.

We have also been awarded Platinum status, the highest accolade available, demonstrating our commitment to achieving performance excellence in the services we provide to the construction industry.

What does being shortlisted mean to everyone at your company?

We are all extremely thrilled that our diligence and commitment to our apprentices have been formally recognised. It is always extremely rewarding and welcoming to be acknowledged for ones’ hard work.

It has given everyone in the team a great sense of pride and achievement. Having something to celebrate and promote to our partners and industry as a whole has raised our profile and enhanced our reputation.

When we first heard we were shortlisted, we immediately put out a Press Release and promoted it on our website and social media channels. We were fortunate enough that Business News Wales picked up our story and published it on their website.

What would it mean to win?

It will provide us with a great sense of honour and put us in good stead when promoting our shared-apprenticeship scheme to local construction companies and promoting our scheme to learners interested in gaining an apprenticeship through us.

We hope that the award will highlight our passion and dedication to making our scheme a great success for all our stakeholders.

How does being shortlisted benefit your customers?

Being shortlisted is a great benefit to our customers. They can promote their association with us as part of their community benefits portfolio – which can boost their image and profile when applying for tenders.

They also benefit from receiving recognition and added exposure through our association as we actively promote our status on our social media channels.

How would you use being the recipient of this award to influence others?

We would try and use the award as reassurance for learners interested in joining an apprenticeship through us. They are entering an award-winning company that prides itself in looking after the well-being of its employees and apprentices, and they will be well looked after.

This, in turn, will put them in the best possible position to complete their apprenticeship and secure full-time employment in the construction industry.

On the flip side, winning this award will also boost our current host partners as they will receive recognition for being associated with an award-winning company. Hopefully, this will encourage more contractors to sign up for our scheme – providing more apprenticeship opportunities.

What can we expect to see from your organisation in the next 12 months? (And beyond).

We will continue to excel and strive to maintain the highest level of service to the construction industry and our apprentices.

We hope to increase apprenticeship opportunities on an ongoing basis and continually decrease the skills gap in the construction industry until this gap is significantly diminished and even eliminated.

What advice would you give to anyone applying for The Investors in People Awards 2022?

Try and participate even if it seems as if what you are doing is not worthy of any recognition or award – sometimes it may feel to you like the small changes you are trying to implement as you go along doesn’t seem significant for you at the time – but what you may not realise is that the small changes add up and makes a massive difference to the people on the receiving end and the industry at large.

Just be as honest and truthful as possible when completing the application. Even if you don’t get shortlisted, it is a great opportunity to reflect on your activities over the past year. This in itself can give you a great sense of achievement and accomplishment.