Meet the employer: Why apprenticeships are at the heart of Barnwood Limited

As part of our Gloucestershire Apprenticeship Campaign, SoGlos talks to county-based construction firm Barnwood Limited about why it remains committed to apprentices.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published
Forty five per cent of Barnwood Limited’s current apprentices are female, which the firm said was great for the future of construction’.
Forty five per cent of Barnwood Limited’s current apprentices are female, which the firm said was ‘great for the future of construction’.

The SoGlos Gloucestershire Apprenticeship Campaign is all about championing the brilliant businesses, pioneering training providers, apprentices and apprenticeships we have in the county.

We spoke to Gemma Cox, HR manager at Barnwood Limited, about why the Gloucester firm (with three distinctive divisions: construction; shopfitting and interiors; as well as general works) is committed to apprenticeships – and has been since it started in 1962.

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Renishaw is a globally successful engineering firm, founded in 1973 by two former Rolls Royce engineering apprentices. It took on its first apprentices in 1979 and today, the business turns over more than £500 million annually.

Gloucestershire College helps more than 700 apprentices to qualify in sectors ranging from catering to computing each year. The college cultivates strong relationships with businesses of all sizes to understand what they need, and to support students through to a successful career.

Gloucestershire Engineering Training was founded in 1977 by a partnership of county businesses. It provides apprenticeship training for the county’s best and most innovative engineering firms and continues to support apprenticeships as a route to work and career development.

The University of Gloucestershire is an integral part of the county’s economy. It has forged strong links with businesses through its courses, its Business School, its part in the Growth Hub network and by introducing new higher apprenticeship opportunities.

How many apprentices has Barnwood got on its books currently and in what areas?

In the past year we have recruited nine apprentices, bringing our total to 12, with a further two completions in the last two months. These cover all areas of the business from quantity surveying and estimating, finance, administration, joinery and site-based positions.

We have had a focus on increasing gender diversity to encourage more females into our industry. Around 45 per cent of our apprentices are female which is great for the future of construction, and Barnwood.

How would you sum up how important apprentices are to Barnwood’s ongoing success and what do they bring to the business?

We have always had great success with building and retaining talent via the apprenticeship route. Bringing new talent into the industry is key to its future success. There is a skills shortage, which will only increase in the future if we don’t invest in apprenticeships.

They bring enthusiasm into the business and as they learn through our employee partners (which include Gloucestershire College, Didec, University of West England, South Gloucestershire College and Accxel) they can also learn alongside employees of different businesses which can bring new ideas and ways of thinking into Barnwood.

Do you have any apprenticeship vacancies and does you expect to make any more positions available the near future?

Each year we take on three apprentices in our joinery workshop, the recruitment process will commence shortly for this, with a start date of August 2022.

We are also looking to recruit an apprentice quantity surveyor and estimator which is a five-year apprenticeship, commencing in September 2022. We have partnered with Accxel (the new construction skills centre in Cinderford) and have two trainees joining us later this year.

Do you also support staff at higher level too?

We do, through our appraisal process we identify any development areas. We have two employees completing apprentices in addition to their current roles, one in marketing and one in business development.

Are there any staff at Barnwood who started as apprentices and have now progressed through to senior/board level?

We have supervisors, site managers, contracts managers as well as our head of contracts and joinery manager who all started their careers as apprentices. Our operations director, John Morgan, started his career as an apprenticeship. He recently retired after 50 years’ service.

We are also grateful to have a range of experienced employees who invest their time, knowledge and wisdom to help our apprentices achieve their qualifications.

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