BMF Training Zone – March 2021

BMF Training Zone – March 2021

Apprenticeships receive a boost each spring as National Apprenticeship Week rolls out. Taking place between 8-12 February, this year’s campaign theme of ‘Build the Future’ could hardly be more appropriate to builders’ merchants and others in the building materials sector. 

The BMF used the spotlight provided to broadcast a series of interviews with merchant employers and apprentices on a variety of online and social media channels.  This was underscored with local news and case studies in mainstream regional media.

And whilst the week proved an excellent springboard, the BMF will continue to fly the flag for apprenticeships throughout the year. With many well-known high street retail businesses closing down — or set to trade only as an online brand — leaving many talented young people jobless, there could not be a better time to promote the many and varied opportunities offered by the merchant industry.

Apprenticeships are available in all areas of merchant business. Key apprenticeships currently being used by BMF members span a spectrum from general entry level courses to advanced management and marketing. They include: Trade Supplier Level 2, Large Goods Vehicle Level 2, Health & Safety Level 3, Team Leader Level 3, Transport Manager Level 3, Management Level 5 and Digital Marketing Level 6.

Carmen Daley, Operations Manager at BMF Apprenticeships Plus, not only wants to promote merchanting as an excellent career choice for young people but she is just as keen to increase awareness amongst employers about the kinds of apprenticeship opportunities young people are now seeking as they choose their future career.

She said: “Construction has already been identified as vital to the UK’s economic bounce back after Covid and the right apprenticeships will play a crucial role both in attracting and training new talent and in upskilling existing workers in our industry.

“Apprenticeships are extremely cost-effective for any size of company. Larger, levy-paying businesses should make full use of the resources they must continue to pay for, while smaller companies can get between 95 and 100% of the cost of an apprenticeship course funded by Government. Essentially, apprenticeships offer a funded route even if other training budgets are constrained.”

Carmen’s BMF Apprenticeship Plus team also offers a gateway to the Government’s Kickstart scheme, which enables employers in England to offer high-quality, six-month work placements to young people aged 16-24, currently in receipt of Universal Credit, who are at risk of long-term unemployment. Employers can claim 100% of the National Minimum Wage for each placement, up to 25 hours, plus the associated employer National Insurance and minimum automatic enrolment contributions.

This is a tremendous opportunity for BMF members to bring young people into their business — many of whom may have previous retail experience — and help them to identify future apprentices. The scheme was initially directly open to employers with at least 30 placements available. Those wanting a smaller number had to apply through a Gateway service, such as that offered by BMF Apprenticeship Plus.

Since 3 February, employers may apply directly to DWP regardless of the number of placements offered (though if they have already applied via a Gateway they must continue with that route). While this gives smaller employers another option, using the BMF Gateway saves time and money by managing all the admin involved. Our Gateway route is being used by several merchants with 30+ placements for that reason.

Overall, Kickstart is really gaining traction within our sector with over 1,250 approved placements in builders’ merchants such as Travis Perkins, SIG, LBS, Williams and via the BMF Gateway.

To discover more about the latest apprenticeships, Kickstart, and the BMF Apprenticeship Plus service call Carmen Daley on 07496 370 224 or email

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