Kevin McLoughlin, director of KM Decorating with Alan Montague, Principal at K&M Training School,

It’s #NationalApprenticeshipWeek, and employers, apprentices and industry professionals everywhere are shouting about the benefits that apprenticeships can bring. But what do these benefits look like to the owner – and training manager – of a SME construction business? Read more to find out…

Kevin McLoughlin MBE, FCIOB – K&M McLoughlin Decorating (and Institute Route Panel Member for Construction):

As a former apprentice myself for a local council – many, many years ago – and through owning my own business, working with main contractors and clients, I realise the importance of offering apprenticeships.

As a successful SME, we have been running a rolling apprenticeship programme for the last 24 years, retaining more than 90% of qualified apprentices into the company.  With 75 qualified decorators and eight current apprentices, K&M realises that long-term investment in a strong team of employees is vital in continuing to secure prestigious decorating contracts.

Focus and determination

All my staff buy into the apprenticeship programme – everyone from the Director and Senior Management, right through to the Office Staff and Site Staff.  And all staff have a part to play in the development of an apprentice, but especially site staff as many of them have followed the same route and progressed into Site Foreman or Supervisor. They are a superb example of what can be achieved with hard work, focus and determination. To date, we have seen 807 individuals come through the doors on a pre-employment course, 301 of which have been offered employment, and 104 of those have been offered an Apprenticeship.

Apprentices are truly the future of our business and make a real difference to K&M. They not only help to reduce the skills shortage within the construction industry, but also helps us to win contracts and meet the Section 106 requirements our clients may have. Furthermore, every apprentice employed has been from a London Borough, which in turn feeds back into the community.

Rewards for the future

Those undertaking an apprenticeship also get the opportunity of gaining a qualification, which in turn boosts their confidence, self-esteem and improving their social mobility.

I strongly believe that the time and effort spent on investing in apprenticeships reaps rewards for the future. I have many valued staff who have come through the apprenticeship route we offer – and I wholeheartedly encourage more companies to do the same!

Allan Montague, Training Manager at K&M McLoughlin Decorating:

Working with – and helping to train – young people into apprenticeships has been as rewarding for me as a teacher as it’s been for our apprentices.

Working with people who are keen to learn new skills so that they can progress into employment can be both challenging and enjoyable. Passing on the skills I have learnt during my career and then seeing improvement in the learner makes me feel that I have contributed to that learner’s progress. Watching them grow in confidence and become part of our team gives me enormous satisfaction.

Dedication and progression

I have seen learners come to our centre on pushbikes or walking some distance to get here, which shows enormous dedication. Gaining an apprenticeship and getting paid while they learn has helped some of them to take driving lessons and buy a car, go on holidays and buy nice clothes. Some have also progressed and gone on to become foreman.

In my opinion, an apprenticeship gives learners the right grounding to work on building sites. It gives them an NVQ qualification which they have for life and helps to build practical skills, communication skills and confidence. They meet like-minded people and make friends.

Hard-working and motivated

Our apprentices come from diverse backgrounds and some have learning difficulties. With help from the team here, and the colleges, they have been able to complete their apprenticeships successfully.

As a company, we also benefit from apprentices as most tend to be loyal, hard-working and motivated.

We need young people to come into our industry and apprenticeships are a great way for them to begin a career.

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