News: A successful Development Day for first year apprentices

15 March 2018

CoTrain delivers first ever development day our new apprentices

After two successful development days aimed at our second year site technicians, the idea was born to deliver one for our first year apprentices.

Covering important topics centred around communication, expectations, college, mental health and wellbeing, the development day was aimed at making sure they focus on their long-term goals and what they can do to achieve successful completion in 2019.

Start dates amongst the apprentices has varied greatly - those who secured their placements back in February 2017, some after their A-levels in the summer and others who have joined CoTrain last December and in January 2018. As a result, we kicked the day off with expectations of the apprenticeships, not from just our perspective, but also the perspective of the colleges and their hosts.

Alex Fowler, one of our second year site manager apprentices gave a short presentation on his experiences covering work and college, followed by a Q&A session. Alex, who is currently placed with Wates, is due to complete his apprenticeship soon and continue his learning through employment.

Alex’s apprenticeship has seen him on three sites with two main contactors giving him invaluable experiences making him well placed to pass on some insight to the first year apprentices. During the Q&A, Alex touched on just how quickly his apprenticeship has gone and how worthwhile it’s been toughing out the occasional rough, keeping his focus on the end game and taking the next steps in his career. 

Communication is a key skill for all apprentices – especially for those in the management disciplines. Angela Torr, Apprentice Manager at CoTrain, guides the first years through the processes of communicating during the apprenticeship, at college and when on placement – who, why and when?

‘A solid grounding in communication is essential for all in apprenticeships and occasionally covering the basics from time to time goes along way to ensure everyone feels confident to take an issue to the appropriate person with regards to their apprenticeship, as they would if they were unsure of a task on site or in the office.’

Mark Pope, Apprenticeship Officer at CITB then gave an overview of apprenticeships and how CITB is evolving to continue the industry drive towards filling the skills gap and how some of their apprenticeships are of a direct result of the CITBS drive.

One of the issues raised during the Development Day was mental health and wellbeing. Mental Health has rightly become a prominent issue nationwide and it is an issue that’s gotten a lot of traction lately within the construction industry. Conor Moran , one of CoTrains mental health first aiders, gave a presentation on recognising the signs and symptoms, both personally as well as in your friends, family and colleagues to better promote awareness and understanding.

Willmott Dixon’s Health and Safety Manager Andy Coulson, hammered home the constant importance around health and safety with a quiz, videos and pictures. Explaining the “Cheese Theory”, Andy explained how poor practice from the ground up, no matter how minor can align perfectly among other failings and result in an accident of any severity can occur.

Keeping with the theme of new technologies and forward-thinking, Andy went on to discuss some of the theories and considerations that Willmott Dixon are looking into around eliminating risks on site.  

Donal O’Donohoe, Digital Engineer with Willmott Dixon, closed the day with an interactive workshop that introduced all but a few of our apprentices to the concept of BIM by getting some hands-on experience with their VR Headsets. The workshop was an exciting introduction to the technological advancements the industry has started to embrace and was well received by all who experienced it first hand, many of which being the next generation of managers who’ll be able to go on and drive advancements like BIM to the new standard.

As apprenticeships evolve our development days will continue to be a work in progress to better tailor the workshops and speakers around our apprentices needs at the time and topics we think relevant and that they will benefit from. No two days have or will be the same and we’re confident from the feedback we receive from our apprentices that the days will continue to better develop our apprentices both personally and professionally as they progress through the two years with us.

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