Geotechnical engineering contractor Van Elle, which has worked on many rail projects including the landslip at Eden Brows (on the Settle-Carlisle line), electrifying the Gospel Oak to Barking line and Reading station, has launched a new vocational route into the piling industry, through the Piling Apprenticeship Trailblazer.
Being enlisted on the RoATP (Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers) enables Van Elle to deliver apprenticeship training through government funding as part of the Apprenticeship Levy scheme.
Back in April 2017, working with the Federation of Piling Specialists (the industry body for geotechnical contractors) key sector employers set about the process of developing a piling specific apprenticeship programme. There was an acknowledgement across the sector that a sector specific gateway was needed to pipeline engineering talent to futureproof the skills and competences required to support labour market demands.
Working with key employer contacts discussions started and a formal group was established to take this forward. A Trailblazer was established and has been developing the apprenticeship standard and framework for delivery, including agreed qualification and learning outcomes.
In June 2018, the Trailblazer was launched and a new Apprenticeship standard was created, ready for training providers and employers to work together to deliver a commercially robust training programme.
Having invested over £1 million in its new Training & Assessment Centre, Van Elle has been successfully approved through its RoATP submission to deliver the new piling attendant standard as a main training provider. Twelve apprentices are currently on the programme, undertaking qualifications at Level 2 through to Level 6 in areas such as civil engineering and business administration, and another ten are just about to be inducted onto the piling attendant apprenticeship.
Mark Buxton, Van Elle training centre manager, commented: “It’s been a long and detailed process to gain the approval and provide details on our delivery framework and methodology for training and supporting the employer and employees.
“However, with being one of the UK’s leading geotechnical contractors, we could pull on our experience to package a programme that fits with the needs and operations of a piling contractor.”
Tracey Darby, HR manager for Van Elle, added: “We are committed at Van Elle to nurturing talent through our business as it is a vital part of futureproofing the skills, competencies, procedures and processes that we have invested heavily in cultivating over the last 35 years.
“It is important we pipeline talent that are well versed in the culture and brand of Van Elle, which Apprenticeships provide the right vehicle to do so. We are looking forward to working with this new cohort within Piling after the success we’ve had with incumbent apprentices in Business Admin, Engineering and Mechanical.”