The recent National Apprenticeship Week has provided us and other businesses with a good opportunity to highlight the work we do to bring emerging talent through and the benefits that it brings to us and our clients.

A number of years ago, at Hollis, we realised that whilst we have an enviable track record of people starting their careers with us and growing with us to become directors, most of our emerging talent was coming through the traditional route of graduating in a surveying, engineering or building related degree. We set about trying to change this.

Our – now award winning – apprenticeship scheme launched in 2016 and every year I find myself inspired by the people coming through it. Apprenticeship schemes only succeed if there is the right quality of person coming through them…AND if the businesses running them are committed to opening up the best opportunities to those people. Today, the programme continues to attract talented individuals who bolster our potential for growth, benefit our clients, and diversify the industry across the board.

Reaching out and removing the barriers

In an industry that has always attracted a ‘type’ of person, it has been important to us that our apprenticeship scheme brings in a more diverse group of people who may not have had the opportunity to follow the traditional route in. Diversity isn’t just an issue of race or gender though; it is also about social mobility. One of the biggest challenges we face is reaching a diverse audience to encourage them to consider a career in our industry in the first place, otherwise the impact of our apprenticeship scheme will be limited. That is why we don’t just put our efforts into the scheme itself, but also into making sure we are getting out to schools and organisations throughout the year to sow the seeds and break down some preconceived ideas and assumptions.

We are committed to a recruitment strategy that encourages fairness and equality in order to contribute to our vision of becoming a more diverse workplace. This means going out of our way to remove the barriers that exist for under-represented groups. For example, we actively participate in the 10,000 Black Interns programme, and 10,000 Able Interns programme, designed to give people opportunities for internships that will hopefully spark a desire to join the industry. Similarly, we have signed up to the Social Mobility Pledge to work with organisations specifically there to give opportunities to those who might find them harder to come by than others. 

Adding value for our apprentices and clients

One of the many advantages of our apprenticeship and early careers programmes, is the skillset that is provided to our participants and the value that can be added for our clients. Apprentices in particular gain hands-on experience that will help them to become familiar with our clients and their requirements from the outset of what is often a long career at Hollis. This hands-on experience sees them build relationships and develop client knowledge, giving them the understanding and awareness of how to deliver a first-class service. 

Engaging apprentices across projects, also contributes to the development of a skilled workforce and supports initiatives that aim to enhance social and economic development within communities. This aligns us, our clients and our contractors with commitments to foster positive socio-economic impacts. 

Apprenticeships are being invested in heavily by the UK Government. They offer an alternative to traditional degrees and boost the economy by getting people into employment earlier; and they remove the pressure of accumulating student debt. By far the biggest benefit they bring though is opening up jobs to groups of people who may have previously considered them out of their reach.

Our mission continues. For National Apprentice Week, earlier this month we shared stories from our apprentices, and I personally look forward to continuing hearing the stories of many more Hollis apprentices and to be inspired by their journeys, drive and passion.

Vicki Palmer

Senior Corporate Social Responsibility & Early Careers Manager

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