Founded by my grandfather in 1950, REL has always recognised the need to train and support tomorrow’s tradesmen. One of the first apprentices to work for my grandfather, Arthur Fenttiman, is still working for us today after joining us 40 years ago as a trainee electrician. Not only that, but his sons Ben and Bobby have since followed in his footsteps also joining REL as apprentices.
At any one time, we have a group of up to five apprentices working for our business including electricians and plumbers. We provide a full apprenticeship scheme which means we pay for college fees and continue to pay apprentices while they take time out to study. Each one is provided with a mentor who provides on the job training and supervision and also helps with the assessment process.
The scheme takes up to five years to complete and as soon as an apprentice becomes fully qualified we appoint a new one so that there is no break in the process.
It’s a system that works, resulting in a retention rate of 95 per cent and loyal workforce many of whom like Arthur, who have worked with us for many successful years.
With the skills shortage still an issue and the demand for skilled labour continuing to rise, there has never been a more important time for construction businesses to take on apprentices. They are the lifeblood of our industry and investing time and money during the early stages certainly pays dividends later.
Providing continued development and training ensures employees are given the opportunities to progress which is key to retaining staff. It also results in a more motivated workforce and ultimately, people with the right skills, knowledge and attitude to deliver the standard of service required. And with the right training, apprentices that work their way up the ranks not only offer an invaluable skill set but become aspirational role models for the next generation of tradesmen.
Toby Buckley, managing director of REL Building Services