Apprentices are the key to the future growth of Bateman Groundworks.
The company invests in about 15 apprentices a year to secure a skilled workforce for decades to come.
The company employs 180 people and is growing rapidly year on year with 30 per cent growth each year for the past three years and a turnover of £17.25m.
But, like other construction companies, it is suffering from a skills shortage in the under 50 age group and needs to build a future workforce “from the bottom up” with apprentices.
Managing director Richard Bateman said: “The Apprenticeship scheme, which has been tailored specifically for our needs, works extremely well for us and will give us the skilled workforce we need for the future”.
“The apprentices who start with us now are being trained for what we are going to do in 2018, 19 and 20 very much in mind.”
“Of the new apprentices a year we are looking to take on we expect to retain most of them, which will assist greatly in enabling us to achieve the growth we are looking for in 2017, 18 and 19.”
Bateman Groundworks’ latest recruits are currently in their first four-week training block of a total of 16 weeks’ residential training at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) centre at Bircham Newton.
“We also took on 12 new apprentices in September 2015 who have been placed with WATA. Aged between 19 and 25, most have completed college courses and had employment experience before applying for an apprenticeship. We will be taking on another 12 in September who will also be placed with WATA” Mr Bateman said.
“Of the 12 that started in September, six or seven have some association with the business, either sons, cousins or friends of people who work with us and about two in the latest cohort of five. It is a nice pattern to have. We have several fathers and sons working with us“.
“We don’t take anyone under 17 and prefer our apprentices to have completed a two-year college course in a construction or engineering related qualification before they join us.”
Sam Clarke, Michael Wright, Lewis Rutterford, Matt Sadler and Tommy Prosser are working towards their Cskills awards, which is a level 2 NVQ qualification.
Sam Clarke, 21, said: “I am a real hands-on person, I have always wanted to work in the construction industry because you can work your way up.”
“With the amount of new housing that is being built, I could see there would be work going forward and I knew someone who had done this apprenticeship and he enjoyed it and said this was a great company to work for.”
Sam completed Level 1 engineering and level 1 in vehicle maintenance at City College Norwich.
Michael Wright, 20, a former Lynn Grove Academy student, completed a BTEC level 3 in engineering at Great Yarmouth College before working in landscaping and ground works.
“I had always thought about civil engineering and ground works as a career. I was offered an office-based job but I preferred something on the construction side and decided to apply for an apprenticeship.”
Lewis Rutterford, 22, had also been working in landscaping and ground maintenance after completing a construction diploma and carpentry course at City College Norwich.
“I was looking for more of a challenge so I applied for an apprenticeship to get qualifications behind me,” said Lewis, from Norwich
Matt Sadler, 25, was working as a labourer at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, on a new building for eight months after a basic carpentry course at Great Yarmouth College.
“The contract ended and I have been out of work since for nearly four months.
My brother-in-law works for the company and recommended its apprenticeship scheme. At 25 I think it’s time I got stuck in to something and have a bit of security.”
Tommy Prosser, 19, had been considering a level 3 welding course to lead to work offshore. “But there is nothing going on in the oil & gas industry at the moment. Friends have done this apprenticeship and recommended it.”
To encourage more school students to consider apprenticeships, the company is planning a campaign in schools and colleges to connect with students, their parents and teaching staff to highlight opportunities in the sector.
Photo caption: Bateman Groundworks’ new apprentices with managing director Richard Bateman and HR coordinator and personal assistant Frankie Yallop.