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Institute of Carpenters encourages the next generation of apprentices


Apprenticeships are an important way of unlocking talent and building skills in the work force. Ten years ago, apprenticeships were close to collapse. Now, apprenticeships are back and the government believes that expanding the number of apprenticeships will help the economy to emerge from the recession stronger.

Knowledge, training and hands-on experience have always been vital for anyone who successfully works in wood. The Institute of Carpenters has always been associated with the highest standards of craftsmanship and professionalism, standards which continue to be considered exceptionally relevant by its members. The IoC plays a significant role in defining those craft professionals who enjoy a career as opposed to just a job, and as part of its belief in the importance of excellence, the Institute is now working with Britain's first designated apprenticeship company, set to be launched in London at the end of April this year.

The London Apprenticeship Company (LAC), with financial assistance from Westminster Council, will directly employ and train apprentices before sub-contracting them to businesses throughout the capital. The LAC aims to make the process of taking on an apprentice easier for employers, who, for a small fee to the not-for-profit company, will see a reduction in paperwork by not having to deal with the payroll, probationary reviews or pastoral care of an apprentice. LAC will support more than 250 apprenticeships in its first year in a range of sectors, including construction services, and hopes this number will rise to at least 1,600 by 2014. The scheme is aimed at 16 to 25 year olds but is also open to those who are facing the threat of long-term unemployment and need to learn new skills. The first apprentices, who will combine on the job training while also gaining recognised qualifications such as NVQs, were employed in early March.

LAC is the first programme of its kind in the UK. When faced with tough economic times, apprenticeships are a highly effective way to ensure woodworking professionals have the right skills in place to not only survive the economic downturn but also to prepare business for when the economic climate improves. A similar model has been operating successfully in Australia for 25 years, and a feasibility study suggested there was demand for such as service in the UK. Companies’ three biggest objections to hiring apprentices tended to be a lack of time to sort the process out, the absence of a central resource to find good people, and worries about training recruits properly once they were on board. The LAC is designed to address all three by finding, employing and training apprentices, and then placing them straight into industry.

The cooperation between LAC and the IoC provides a cost effective, low risk way of making student craftspeople available to IoC members when they need the assistance, without having to make a long-term commitment. Duncan King, director of the IoC, says “The London Apprenticeship Company provides a badly needed means of taking students into the workplace, so they can get the experience they need to complete their qualifications. This is a facility of which our members are already making effective use. In turn, LAC apprentices are offered IoC student membership, which marks them as a ‘cut above’ and by joining the professional body for their craft, clearly committed to the career which they have chosen. Their membership develops with the apprentices as their skills develop, matching academic achievements and experience milestones throughout their career.”

“Organising a training programme of the highest quality in conjunction with the most suitable training providers ensure success in the apprenticeship,” says LAC business development executive Lindsay McCurdy. “Each apprentice is matched with a suitable training provider offering the highest quality training available, usually with a local college or specialist training organisation. The training providers work directly with us and the employer to provide the best possible training for specific apprenticeships, and the Institute of Carpenters’ high standards and professionalism will develop a higher calibre in our carpentry and joinery apprentices.”

The aims of the IoC include promoting and enhancing the role and status of skilled craftsmen and women everywhere; encouraging the highest standards of carpentry and joinery work; and making sure that essential skills are maintained. These, coupled with a range of support, services, training and benefits invaluable to anyone in a wood-based profession, mean that the IoC might have been founded in the 19th century, but its aspirations are firmly in the 21st. The historic craft of building and working with timber has never been a more relevant and sustainable solution as it is today.

Email: lucy@charactercomms.com


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Arundel Jones Associates Ltd Registered in England and Wales No. 07334149
Hill Farm, Linton Hill, Maidstone, Kent ME 17 4AL
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