Case Study: Trailblazing in the construction sector
Travis Perkins plc, one of the UK’s leading builders merchants, has been proactive in tackling the challenges facing the construction industry, with a significant focus on decarbonisation and the need to adopt more modern methods of construction; as well as diversifying a typically male-dominated and ageing workforce. To help achieve this, Travis Perkins has introduced the Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Scheme (LEAP).
Travis Perkins Plc
Year awarded 2022
Size 1000+ employees
“We have a lot of people who have been in the team for years who are keen to give something back. We provide good managers, good drivers, and others with a wealth of experience with the chance to train others, to pass on their knowledge and skills and that is incredibly powerful.”
Andy Rayner, Director of Apprenticeships and Early Careers
Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Scheme (LEAP)
LEAP has introduced a younger generation to the workforce, bringing in new and different perspectives, a culture of asking questions not previously asked, and a change in the way the company thinks.
As Andy Rayner, Director of Apprenticeships and Early Careers, explained: “One example is how we shrink wrap pallets. You put polythene round pallets to stop bricks from falling off and this young guy worked out that wrapping twice compared to typical usage reduced the plastic by 80%. It is so obvious, but nobody ever thought of it because we’ve all done it all our lives and never thought about what we do. So, it took someone else to come in with an interest in sustainability to make that change. That is a simple example but what young recruits are doing is fundamentally changing our business.”
A diverse and evolving workforce
LEAP seeks to attract a diverse range of people from outside the industry to the construction sector, whatever their background or experience, through tailored training. Rayner asserted that targeting different groups requires looking outside the sector and bringing people in, underlining the importance of a strong training programme.
Launched in October 2017, the programme has grown steadily with 2,910 people having commenced their training, 926 having completed it and 961 in progress to date. The impact on the company is still being realised but 35.2% of applicants are now female, the average age of recruits is now 25 and BAME representation has increased from 1.2% to 6.2%. Notably, 83% of BAME learners achieve higher grades than non-BAME learners.
Rayner explained that the programme has the added benefit of drawing on the experience of the existing workforce: “We have a lot of people who have been in the team for years who are keen to give something back. We provide good managers, good drivers, and others with a wealth of experience with the chance to train others, to pass on their knowledge and skills and that is incredibly powerful.”
Tailored and accessible learning
Through its customised approach, Travis Perkins’ LEAP programme has evolved to meet a range of learning needs. Upskilling employees’ literacy levels has been an unexpected benefit of the scheme in an industry where individuals have strong communication or relationship-building skills but may have fewer academic skills. Rayner stated that: “One of the most pleasing things with the scheme is that we have resolved a problem that we didn’t know existed, but it is making such a difference.“
The supportive environment developed through the programme is evidenced in figures indicating that 83% of apprentices who have learning needs went on to achieve either a distinction or merit. Furthermore, 98% of apprentices would recommend the programme to others and figures indicate greater retention amongst apprentices.
Lee Alder, Yard Sales Assistant, Malvern
Trailblazing in the construction sector
Travis Perkins is a trailblazer in the construction industry. The company has created new standards, whilst also sharing best practice with others in the industry about how effective apprenticeship programmes should be run.
Rayner explained how sharing best practices was not initially an aim, but the company realised they had something valuable for the industry, and it was important to share their approach. He explained: “With the skills crisis we were facing, through the ageing workforce, we realised we were doing something that no one else was doing and it was working. People began asking us what we were doing, and we became a bit of a consultancy. It became a natural thing to start sharing it.”
The company’s commitment to developing the industry is also witnessed through its willingness to allow apprentices to continue and complete their apprenticeship after they move to a competitor in the sector.
As Rayner explains: “We did things for the right reasons and it has just grown organically” but achieving the Award has importantly meant that individuals’ hard work has been recognised adding, “we have gained greater credibility when talking externally, outside of the organisation.”
Ellie Goldstone, BSS Branch Hire Manager, Reading