A celebration of the value young trainees bring to UK businesses takes place in February with National Apprenticeship Week.

The government initiative, which began in 2007, is this year themed ‘Skills for Life’. Its aim is to encourage businesses large and small to consider how apprenticeships can help individuals develop the skills and knowledge for a rewarding career. It is also an incentive for employees to develop a workforce with future-ready skills.

Commercial roofing specialist BriggsAmasco is an advocate of National Apprenticeship Week, having successfully employed trainees across all areas of the business for many years.

Karl Waddicor is one of 10 apprentices currently employed with the company. Based at BriggsAmasco’s Manchester branch, the 25-year-old is on a Roofer Level 2 apprenticeship known as ‘Trailblazer’.

Karl began his apprenticeship in September 2021. The programme incorporates all elements of the roofing sector including liquid, single-ply and reinforced bitumen membranes, with Karl due to take his final assessment in 2024. His hard work and progress were acknowledged when he was named BriggsAmasco’s ‘Apprentice of the Year’ for the 2021/2022 academic period.

Karl said a family member, a former BriggsAmasco roofing apprentice, encouraged him to take the same career path. “Watching how my older brother has worked and progressed in the roofing trade really inspired me to always work hard, “ he said. “He started as an apprentice roofer at BriggsAmasco, progressed to become a branch supervisor and now works for Bauder. His journey has really inspired me and thanks to BriggsAmasco, I know there are plenty of opportunities for me to similarly progress.”

Tony Lawther, BriggsAmasco’s Managing Director, provides an ideal example of the company’s successful apprenticeship scheme. Having joined the company as an asphalt apprenticeship in 1984, Tony progressed to a Chargehand before ascending all the way up to his current position in 2023. He said: “BriggsAmasco has always given brilliant support to its apprentices. I guess I’m proof of that. For the right person, BriggsAmasco provides a real opportunity to learn, work and pursue a successful career. An apprenticeship is the ideal route to make that happen.”

In the 2022/23 academic year, there were 752,150 people participating in an apprenticeship in England. The figure includes 337,140 apprenticeship starts, which represents a 33% decrease on the number of people embarking on a traineeship in 2015/16. With the UK construction sector continuing to suffer a skills shortage, an uptick in trainees enrolling in work placements that include an industry qualification remains crucial to fulfilling the country’s building needs.

Karl Waddicor has a message for those considering signing-up to an apprenticeship programme. “I would highly recommend it. Just remember to always put the maximum effort in, whatever you’re working on. And most importantly, ask questions. Because at BriggsAmasco if I ever have an issue, I know my colleague is there to give me any advice I need” he said.

National Apprenticeship Week takes place between February 5th and 11th. To find out how to get involved and download the toolkit at National Apprenticeship Week.