Companies have social duty to increase apprenticeships, says Amey's Milner

Leading infrastructure organisation Amey has said the sector has a moral imperative to expand the number of apprenticeships on offer as well as doing it to meet business objectives.  The 21,000 strong company wants to recruit 1000 new apprentices over the next four years.

Andy Milner, Amey Consulting

“Not everyone wants to go to university,” said managing director of the consulting and strategic infrastructure division of Amey, Andy Milner. “Apprenticeships are a way of doing the right thing by society and helping people into work with structured training and giving them an opportunity to maximise their capability.”

"We’ve doubled the number of apprentices working with us and we’ve committed to recruiting a further 1000 over the next four years" - Andy Milner

He was speaking at the start of National Apprenticeship Week and at a time when even though the engineering and infrastructure sector is facing a skills crisis, there are 740,000 people between 16 and 24 unemployed – 16.2% of the working population.

“Apprenticeship programmes offer a bit of earlier vocational experience for people and structure that allows them to develop within a framework so they, and we can give them different experiences and see what they are good at. In the absence of a proper programme you risk losing them in the system” Milner said.

Milner believed if professional apprenticeship schemes had been available when he was younger, he would have been one of the people signed up to them. “When I left school at 18 I had no interest in carrying on with education. I wanted to work. But people’s aspirations change – mine did. I was working in the estates department of the Burton Group and was exposed to construction and decided that’s what I wanted, so I went to university in my 20s. An apprenticeship would have been another good way to go.”

There is no denying, he said, that apprenticeships are also vital to sustainable development of the Amey business.

“Sustainable growth is so important to the continued success of our business that we’ve made it one of our core company objectives.  Our business is growing rapidly, both here in the UK and internationally so building a skilled, sustainable workforce has never been more important and apprenticeships are one way we can enhance our skills base, particularly for highly specialised, niche roles.”

One challenge facing the business today, he said, is the decline in people taking science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and this could mean a smaller bank of people with the skills companies like Amey rely on to deliver first-class services for our customers. 

“We’re dealing with this challenge head on.  We’ve doubled the number of apprentices working with us and we’ve committed to recruiting a further 1000 over the next four years.  This investment will help ensure that we’re bringing fresh ideas into the business, allowing us to challenge industry norms and drive innovative solutions – this, in turn, supports our own innovation agenda and also helps us retain our competitive advantage in the marketplace,” Milner said.

“In addition to providing fundamental support to the growth and success of our business, emerging talent programmes, such as apprenticeships, also support the personal and professional growth of our future managers and leaders.

“We’re really proud to offer over 40 different apprenticeship frameworks across our business and while the sectors, roles and environments we work in can vary widely, apprenticeships with us all offer the same core benefit; a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity to gain life-long skills and experiences. 

“Each and every one of our apprentices’ has the opportunity to gain real-life experience in their chosen field working alongside industry experts who offer mentorship and guidance.  To complement this, apprentices’ can also reinforce their expertise by working towards a professional qualification.  In addition we also offer the opportunity for apprentices’ to participate in a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award as we believe this equips young people with valuable life skills such as responsibility, team work, communication and decision making.  

“We frequently receive positive feedback from our apprentices.  The mix of gaining hands-on experience while working towards an industry recognised qualification and participating in a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award seems to really appeal to young people.

“We believe that an apprenticeship is the first step in your career and we can offer a choice of career entry routes along with all the development you need to achieve your full potential. We’re proud to say some of our senior management team members started out as apprentices and have worked their way up. There is a lot of hard work involved, but if you’re dedicated to developing, we’ll support you all the way.” 


National Apprenticeship Week

A series of blogs by apprentices to highlight their experiences will be published across the week by the Technical Apprenticeships Consortium. Visit the TAC website to find out about their experiences and the ACE website to read their blogs


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