With recruiting a new generation of talent a crucial issue for the merchant sector, the BMF discusses its Ambassador programme and the importance of apprenticeships.
The relaunch of the BMF’s youth recruitment campaign, Building Materials Careers led to an upsurge in the numbers of enthusiastic industry colleagues joining the BMF Ambassador programme. With 50 passionate and knowledgeable ambassadors covering a wide range of job roles within the industry, our drive to promote Building Materials Careers is being taken into schools, colleges and specialist exhibitions around the country.
Several ambassadors joined BMF staff at the National Apprenticeships Shows at Cheltenham Racecourse and Bolton Arena last October. Others attended careers fairs at local schools and colleges, highlighting their progress in our industry to inspire students to consider what a career in building materials could offer them.
One of BMF’s objectives is to show the diversity of roles available in our sector, which is clearly paying dividends. Temi Kucuk, BMF Ambassador and Business Development Manager at Artificial Grass, attended the Thomas Deacon Academy Careers Fair in Peterborough and said: “It was great to see as many girls interested as the boys. They thanked us for showing them a new career path they were not aware of previously.”
Jo Callow, Merchant Sales Support Manager at Knauf Insulation, who joined Carmen Daley, Operations Manager at BMF Apprenticeship Plus and Paige Godsell, BMF Training Co-ordinator at Bolton Arena, was also enthused by the number of young women that approached our all-female team. “The show was well attended,” said Jo “and I personally was really surprised at the level of engagement of the young people present. It was great to have some meaningful conversations with people who were passionate about progressing their career. We should continue to promote the industry in such a positive way.”
Another Ambassador, Ashley Connor, who is a specialist Sales Manager at Ridgeons, found that both pupils and teachers at the school he visited showed a keen interest in what’s involved in the industry that provides the materials to make the houses they live in. Ashley said: “It was clear that they were not fully aware of how an apprenticeship works. This was a great opportunity to discuss the benefits of working in the building materials industry and the features of an apprenticeship.”
“A key message to those staring their careers and those employing them is that apprenticeships can now support life-long learning within our industry, providing opportunities for employers to attract, retain and upskill their most valuable resource.”
With all the good work going on around the country, the BMF will be introducing an Industry Ambassador Award at the 2020 Members’ Annual Conference. However, when it comes to apprenticeships in particular, Carmen Daley believes there is an ongoing education job to do. She explained: “The use of apprenticeships as a recruitment and retention tool has been a slow burn within the builders’ merchanting sector of late. This is largely attributed to the scare stories surrounding the wide-ranging apprenticeship reforms.
“Post-reform, the focus of those members engaging with apprenticeships initially remained around entry level positions only — a legacy from the previous system. However, as understanding grows, there is an increase in the use of apprenticeships for upskilling higher-level employees — and particularly amongst levy payers.
“Meanwhile, SME members are starting to take advantage of the 5% cap on apprentice training available to them which is opening doors to professional certification, degree and postgraduate study that was previously unaffordable to smaller organisations.”
If you would like to represent your industry as a BMF ambassador, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
For more information about BMF apprenticeship solutions, contact Carmen Daley on 07496 370 224 or email email@example.com
BMF training ranges from formal Apprenticeships, sector-specific Diplomas and a Foundation Degree in Merchant Management, to online product knowledge and other specialist skills training.