As part of #NAW2016, Futureworks (Yorkshire) blogs about their shared apprenticeships approach.

The ancient practice of alchemy sought to purify, mature and perfect certain objects such as turning a base metal into a precious one. Alchemists want to make real a magical process of transformation, creation and combination of multiple parts into something of true value.

What does alchemy have to do with construction? Well, we’re constantly looking to achieve the same result. As a profession we’re resilient, resourceful and practical. We’re good at delivering the impossible.

The construction industry currently has a serious skills deficit. Lack of true long term investment in skills planning along with the impact of recessions has left huge holes in company resources. Holes that need to be plugged quickly with high quality individuals wanting a long term career in the profession.

Over the past few years pressures on local economies and the introduction of legislation such as the Social Value Act has seen clients include local social value in developments and procurement. Better documentation and client information, along with the use of frameworks such as those offered by Scape as a driving vehicle of change and sustainability, have produced some outstanding results. Outputs have ceased being pure tick box exercises to those companies who, as well as wanting to deliver the very best outcomes, see the true value in positive social impact. Apprenticeships have always been a staple of the industry and a good way to engage local people at all levels. Over the last couple of years however they have been increasingly in the spotlight and will continue to be. We see huge numbers, in the tens of thousands per year, being needed and new benchmarks being driven forward based on value and not necessarily on other factors such as type of work or duration.

So how do we deliver what on the face of it is a base metal in value?

Construction projects very rarely last the full duration of an apprenticeship and many companies find they move to different parts of the region following projects. This makes it difficult to take on apprentices, particularly in the supply chain.

Looking to provide a solution, Futureworks (Yorkshire), a Community Interest Company formed in May 2013 to deliver the YORfuture shared apprenticeship service across Yorkshire and Humber on behalf of industry partners and CITB. This collaborative approach enables organisations to benefit from apprentices at all project phases, from design to maintenance, and for the required duration.

At Futureworks (Yorkshire) we’re passionate about providing sustainable futures for young people and the shared apprenticeship approach enables us to pull together the component parts of apprenticeship from multiple schemes and across multiple contractors and consultants. Rather than displace traditional apprenticeships, it complements them. More than 45 companies have used our services to date. Firms such as Wates, Willmott Dixon, Carillion, Balfour Beatty and Keepmoat, along with many SMEs and consultants, have seen this as an opportunity to deliver their clients’ needs in a very professional and sustainable way.

Futureworks (Yorkshire) has achieved a form of alchemy by making real a magical process of combining multiple parts of an apprenticeship across projects and their host companies.

The workforce of the future is a tangible precious commodity and the shared apprenticeship model utilised by Futureworks (Yorkshire) is producing real skills gold every day from our talented young people.

We like to call it Apprenticeship Alchemy.

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