BUILDING Management systems specialist Trend Control Systems, hopes to tackle the nation's lack of trained building service engineers with its apprentice programme.
This year, Horsham-based firm Trend Control Systems, offered 50 individuals apprenticeships in building services engineering, out of 550 individuals who had responded to their campaign.
'The UK building services industry will suffer if the present lack of trained building service engineers is allowed to continue, while we and our partners need trained technicians to maintain business growth,' said Tim Darkes, managing director of Trend Control Systems.
For many years, Trend has trained apprentices, providing them with certificated qualifications, along with Trend product training and hands-on learning.
'Trend partners have not always been able to match this resource, so they requested our help to fill the industry-wide need for new technicians' said Darkes.
At the start of the 2006/07 school year, Trend did not have an apprenticeship scheme that supported its partners. Loretta Wootton, a Trend project manager who had herself served an apprenticeship was tasked with finding partner companies' needs and developing a scheme meet them.
'The problems included finding candidates with motivation, matching college courses with training needs, encouraging local colleges to run necessary courses and retaining individuals both during and after training,' said Wootton.
A three-month campaign involving the launch of a website www.TrendAttitude.co.uk, promotion at careers events and recruitment stands in shopping centres helped encourage applicants to sign up. Trend wished to attract younger candidates, so used Connexions Direct, a nationwide scheme that helps 14-19 year olds choose careers.
Trend used an online aptitude test for numeracy, language and dependability to ensure selected individuals could cope technically, be able to communicate effectively with customers and have the right attitude. 'Interestingly it was the people with the highest dependability score who were most likely to be among the 50 selected for apprenticeships,' said Wootton.
The Trend attitude apprenticeship scheme was presented to Trend's partners who agreed to take 43 apprentices to work in their businesses, while another seven would be apprenticed directly by Trend.
Following the success of this year's scheme, Trend has recruited Jennifer Fyson as apprentice scheme manager to develop the scheme and repeat the recruitment process for 2008's intake.
Fyson is fostering a sense of belonging to the 'Trend family' during training, to aid retention of time-served apprentices.
Trend is taking the lead in driving long-term training and qualifications by working with 17 colleges and training providers to tailor courses appropriate to the needs of the building services industry.
'We are also working with the Learning & Skills Council and Sector Skills Council to consider new and innovative ways of delivering training nationwide,' said Fyson.