Hiring an apprentice: Asking the right questions

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As our industry inches closer to recovery, many builders and subcontractors will be looking to the future, and thinking about the number of people they might need.
We take a look at how you, as an employer in the construction industry, can ensure you get the right people to grow your business.

If building skills shortages become severe, as predicted, it’s inevitable that many builders will be forced to hire less skilled workers. And, in fact, according to some recent BERL research, these less skilled workers are still incredibly important to the big picture and getting the work done.
However, you’re going to need highly skilled guys too. If you’re going to put the time, effort and investment into an apprentice, you need to ensure it pays off for you, the apprentice and your business.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a strategy to get the right person for the job. We’ll take a look at some things you can do to make this happen.
To start with, you need to consider the goals of your business. Where do you want to be in five years? What sort of work do you want to be doing? And how big do you want your business to be?
You need to answer these questions before you start interviewing for a new apprentice. You then need to keep this in mind whilst talking to a potential new employee. Do their goals align to yours? Look for common ground.

Motivation is key. The best builders are often those who started out with a long-term career in mind, not just a job to kill time in the holidays. And that is how the BCITO is pitching the sector to youth considering their options.
Building and associated specialist trades are becoming increasingly professional. We need young people who want to actually make something of themselves, so look out for someone with the motivation to succeed — it shouldn’t be hard to spot. This is probably the single biggest employee attribute that can help your business flourish.

The other thing we need to consider here is previous experience, or time spent on-site. There seems to be two camps here — employers who want it, and employers who don’t.
In our experience, most employers would prefer some experience. But don’t forget about motivation. What would you prefer — someone who is driven to really make something of themselves, or someone who has experience but is happy to cruise along?

The other thing worth mentioning is that with the looming skills shortage, most of the experienced guys have already been snapped up. But don’t despair! Highly motivated apprentices will learn fast, and will do the job your way.

The BCITO has introduced a new service whereby we are able to put keen career-seekers in contact with employers looking for apprentices.
We currently have a database of people who are keen to get into the industry and are looking for work. We capture a host of information on each person, from whether they have their own tools or not, to where they’re willing to work.

We can use this information to match suitable career seekers to employers, depending on what the employer is after.
If you are looking at putting on an apprentice, get in touch with us on 0800 422 486. We may be able to put you in contact with motivated people.