With construction in Wales facing a skills shortage and an urgent need to address how to recruit and retain talent you would be well advised to learn from the work of the award winning Cyfle Building Skills. The regional shared apprenticeship scheme, based in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, has been awarded with the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Innovation for 2017, the most prestigious business of its kind in the UK and recognised worldwide, after the Prime Minister recommended them for the award.
The Shared Apprenticeship Scheme commenced in 2007 a partnership between CCTAL, CITB, Coleg Sir Gar and Carmarthenshire County Council and then progressed into the Cyfle Regional Model in 2013 linked with five local authorities: Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.
Apprentices are taught using new and original methods, and provided with a theory-based education in the regional colleges whilst also being offered the chance of practical work in various trades. Cyfle’s apprentices work with various employers over the two years rather working with one fixed employer. This gives them an alternative route into an apprenticeship as opposed to the traditional route, and the flexible shared system of apprentices has been described as the “ultimate work-based learning experience” for future tradespeople.
It is no exaggeration to say that it is regarded as a ground breaking initiative. It is very contractor oriented with strong support from SMEs and engages with around 150 companies of varying scale and specialities. It is backed by CITB, the Welsh Government and various stakeholders including CEW and has won or been part of three CEW Awards before it secured the Queen’s Award.
Anthony Rees, Regional Manager for Cyfle said: “Entering the CEW Awards really helped us to see just how far we had come as an organisation and the impact we have had upon the young people we work with as well as the industry and wider communities. The audit process for the CEW Awards in 2015 when we won the leadership/development category really gave us confidence.”
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One of the main additionalities to the scheme has been the life changing opportunities for some of the Shared Apprentices to work on the Maternity Ward Scheme in Kachumbala, Uganda in partnership with EFOD South West Wales.
Anthony Rees said, “Our success is because of the commitment of everyone involved from the team here to the contractors and local authorities as well as the apprentices themselves. The critical thing is no one has an ego. There is no hidden agenda here. This is not about individual success or commercial gain. Cyfle is all about a passion for construction and encouraging young people to consider a career in the built environment.”
One of the main reasons Cyfle works so well is its close affinity with colleges. Anthony Rees operates from an office in the Ammanford Campus and the scheme has satellite offices and team members based in other colleges. It means Cyfle, its team and its contractors understand the apprentices and what their needs and goals are. That’s why it is so successful and why it has transformed the lives of 280 shared apprentices through the Cyfle scheme.