Bridging the skills gap and introducing a younger generation into the highways industry has long been mooted as an absolute must for the future of the sector.
Many employers are creating opportunities via apprenticeship schemes to instigate this movement, and Crown Highways are a company recognising the importance of preparing for the next generation of professionals.
Crown Highways is a member of ‘The 5% Club’ which is a collaborative movement between employers who are committed to employing more apprentices to develop their workforce. By joining The 5% Club, members aim to achieve 5% of their workforce to be apprentices within 5 years of becoming a member.
A recent addition to Crown Highways’ team is Sofia Lake, an apprentice who joined the company in November 2019. Sofia is an apprentice in Business Administration, working towards her Level 2 diploma.
We spoke to Sofia about her journey to Crown Highways, and why Crown were the right choice for her development:
HI.COM: So, Sofia, why did you decide to go down the route of an apprenticeship?
Sofia (SL): “After completing my GCSE’s and then my A Levels I wasn’t certain on what career path was right for me. I did lots of research and attended numerous careers events and decided that university would not be the route I would take. That meant I would look down the apprenticeship route.”
HI.COM: What does the apprenticeship entail?
SL: “On the education side of things, as part of my apprenticeship I attend In-Comm training services, they act as my training provider – comparable to going to college.
“I attend once a month to work towards my Level 2 Diploma in Business Administration. I am also required to do some amount of course work to show I am competent in the knowledge aspect. I required a qualification in IT to pass Level 2.
“It is required for my apprenticeship that I spend 20% of my working hours doing off-the-job learning, this includes being taught new skills, knowledge and behaviors, that will benefit your job in some way.
“In my time spent at Crown, I have worked with all departments providing administrative support, for example I work in accounts one day a week, this involves tasks such as scanning and filing invoices.
“I also do a lot of work regarding the HERS side of the business, such as construction portfolios with evidence from site visits as well as qualifications and personal information such as CV’s and driving license authorization documents.”
HI.COM: Would you recommend apprenticeship opportunities to others?
SL: “There are countless reasons why I think apprenticeships are great and would recommend them.
“Firstly, they followed a structured program which allows you to organise your time so that you can efficiently work full time alongside learning and working towards a qualification.
“Additionally, getting into employment earlier means there is more potential to progress quickly in your career. Beginning an apprenticeship gives a better of understanding of what working life is like, and you are able to show an employer that you are capable, competent and willing to learn.
“Finally, and potentially the most obvious advantage of apprenticeships is the aspect of ‘earning whilst you’re learning.’ You’re paid for your employment with the company. Additionally, apprenticeships don’t involve tuition fees or student loans, and the government will support the costs of your training.”
Crown MD Mike Dale added:
“We have a real commitment to our membership of the 5% club and Sofia, as well as all Crown apprentices, are a sign of our company commitment to the sector to nurture the next generation of workforce.
“Sofia has settled in really well with us and goes about her work diligently with a high level of quality. We’re delighted with her progress and will be continuing to explore opportunities for young people to achieve via apprenticeships with Crown Highways.”