Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole Council Housing & Communities Directorate
Bournemouth, Christchurch, Poole Council is the local authority for Bournemouth, Dorset. Bournemouth is fortunate enough to have retained a Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) and has its 120 of its own directly employed trades staff, 12% of which are apprentices. The service is very well regarded and has one of the highest repairs tenant satisfaction ratings in the country, looking after 5500 council and leasehold properties.
The Housing and Communities directorate maintains and develops the council’s corporate buildings and undertakes large scale refurbishment and construction projects in the public and private sector (through Seascape South). Any surplus made is re-invested into council services. Recent projects include a new build café development at Durley Chine that won a national LABC excellence award, the refurbishment of a 40 bed care home in Boscombe and an overnight beach hut development in Southbourne.
Bournemouth has always prided itself on having a commercial outlook, balanced with community, employment and social objectives. To meet demand, they have had to ensure business continuity whilst improving efficiency and productivity. The Bournemouth & Poole College and their Apprenticeship programme has proved to be a vital part of the council's continuous improvement.
The Housing and Communities Directorate has worked with The College for a number of years and has long been an advocate of Apprenticeships. Each year they take on a variety of apprentices from Business Administration through to Carpentry, with eight new apprentices employed within the trades in the 2016 intake alone.
Employing apprentices ensures that they get the best workforce for the future and enables them to plan for employee progression. It also allows them to train apprentices to their way of working, right from the beginning.
Being the area’s leading Apprenticeship provider, The College has worked closely with the department to develop their Apprenticeship programme. Once key skills or areas for development are identified The College tailors their service to ensure these are met. Each year they utilise The College’s free recruitment service to draw up shortlists for each role and candidates are pre-screened prior to being put forward for interview.
Apprenticeships have delivered many rewards over the years, not least, bringing the department's overall costs down and allowing them to remain commercially competitive. However, that is far from the only benefit; apprentices have had a positive effect on the overall dynamic of the department, bringing in new ideas and perspectives. In mentoring an apprentice, established trades staff take a fresh look at day to day tasks and also develop skills in training and supervision. Apprentices have brought a new dimension to the business; modern technology will form a vital part of future productivity and efficiency improvements, such as their current mobile working project, often in these situations apprentices become mentors themselves to less technologically proficient staff!
They have found that during their first year of an Apprenticeship an apprentice is often simply learning, but by their second and third year they will have grown in confidence and are really contributing to the business. An apprentice’s innovative attitude can bring positive change to their teams and once qualified they can cherry pick the very best staff to become permanent members of their future workforce. It simply makes good business sense.
The College has been able to find suitable candidates to fill the department's vacant positions and each trade has a dedicated supervisor who liaises with them, which ensures excellent two-way conversation and support. That close communication allows them to know exactly how well their apprentices are progressing and ensures that any problems are nipped in the bud early on.
"It is important for us that we continue to recruit apprentices to meet the needs of our business. This will never be more important than with the Apprenticeship reforms due to be introduced.
Our country is going to go through a period of change as we re-evaluate our relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. We need to make sure that we train our young people to have the skills we need and to a good standard. It is important to invest in our communities and in our workforce to make sure that we are continually improving and innovating. Part of being a community employer is working with local training providers and students to create real opportunities and bring about changes that matter.
We have been impressed with the support and communication with The College. Over the years we have been able to draw on their industry specific knowledge and access a talent pool that would not have been available to us otherwise. Equally, where we have put forward candidates that we wanted to provide opportunities for, such as Looked After Children, who have sometimes needed additional help and support, the College have helped to provide a tailored service.
If you’re considering Apprenticeships for your business, do it. In terms of business continuity, increasing efficiency and investing in your local community, they are second to none."