BMF Training Zone: Apprenticeships LEAP into action

BMF Training Zone: Apprenticeships LEAP into action

Following the Builders Merchants Federation’s appointment of LEAP Early Careers and Apprenticeships as the training provider for BMF Apprenticeship Plus, a growing number of merchant members are committing to the LEAP apprenticeship programme to develop colleagues.

Twenty new apprentices have already started on LEAP programmes, working in eight different BMF merchant businesses. While some of these merchants, including Joseph Parr and Harlow Brothers, are existing levy payers, others such as Bell Plumbing, Collier & Catchpole, E Tupling, Paull & Co, JGF and Turnbull & Co are amongst the businesses taking the apprenticeship leap for the first time.

As non-levy paying merchants, they had to set up an account with the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) which gives them access to apprenticeship funding as well as apprenticeship standards and training providers — and the BMF was on hand to help with this process.

Kerry Wilson, BMF Learning and Development Manager, explained: “For some it’s daunting setting up the DAS account but really its quite straightforward, getting more complex when raising each group of apprentices and securing the 95% funding, within the funding deadlines. Here at BMF, we have been able to take the reins and support our members on how to do this, with the members gaining longer term benefits by granting account permissions to LEAP (the provider) and allowing it to do this on their behalf.”

“Apprenticeships are often thought of as a valuable first step for school-leavers, but BMF LEAP apprenticeships are equally valuable for those developing skills throughout their career.”

Apprenticeships are often thought of as a valuable first step for school-leavers, but BMF LEAP apprenticeships are equally valuable for those developing skills throughout their career. Amongst the initial apprenticeship group, those starting out on the merchanting ladder are working towards Level 2 Trade Supplier, while others are progressing their career by undertaking a Level 3 Team Leader apprenticeship. A further group of specialists have embarked on Level 3 Fitted Furniture (Kitchen and Bathroom) or Level 4 Sales programmes.

Whatever their apprenticeship level, they are all supported by a designated LEAP coach. One of those coaches, Aaron Brown, was immediately impressed by their enthusiasm: “It’s been amazing to meet the new apprentices from across the BMF family. I can immediately see the passion they have for what they do and I’m incredibly excited to be part of their development journey and looking forward to shaping the careers of these talented individuals who are building our communities.”

The coaching support means the apprentices can combine remote study with on-the-job experience, which is proving popular. William Williams, who recently began work at Joseph Parr Group, explained: “The benefit of doing the learning remotely is that I can go at my own place and control how I’m doing things, and the support I get is really strong. If I ever need any questions answering or need any help, I get an answer immediately.”

Matthew Nugent at E Tupling added: “Having the chance to gain a qualification while learning on the job is a good balance, and I prefer learning remotely. When you are hands on you can make mistakes and learn from them. You can’t do that in a classroom.”

With BMF companies currently advertising for almost 30 more apprentices, this is the beginning of a great chapter with the BMF and LEAP working together to help BMF members to develop their teams and to build excellence in material supply.

To find out more about BMF LEAP apprenticeships, please contact Kerry Wilson on 07387 239194 or email

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