Stuart Barr
Barr Joinery
Barr Kitchens

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13th Mar 2017

National Apprentice Week meets International Women

Wednesday evening (International Woman’s Day) saw an explosion of Facebook posts… men’s admiring respect for their partners and businesses giving it up for the girls in their work force and what they contribute to the team.  It is no secret that a business runs best with broad spectrum of characters, skills and approaches - at the helm and in the workforce.  A manager should not clone him or herself but instead encourage contrasting and complimentary strengths.

Last night attending the Oxfordshire Apprentice Awards as sponsors, we saw living proof of the value that employers are investing in apprentices, and in women in particular: every single individual award winner was female. 

Paddy Patterson, OAA organiser, said after the event that he was as surprised as anyone.  “As the independent judging panels were sending in their responses, one by one, it became clear that a single factor was swinging the balance. The girls were cleaning up!” More school-leavers of both sexes are seeing the apprenticeship route as a means of meeting training needs whilst earning and improving their future employment potential.  There were fantastic applicants and finalists of both genders. Nonetheless, it was hard not to notice the ‘girl power’ in the room and to feel the flag flying high for International Women’s Day.

The number of women working for the Barr Group companies has more than doubled in the last 3 years but here and across the industry women are still in the minority.  The Barr Group companies have started recruiting for their September 2017 apprentice intake.  We are looking for men and women - young and not so young - who are prepared to show commitment to their work and their studies. In return, they will receive training, support, mentoring and job satisfaction.  The Barr Group companies offer interesting, exciting and challenging projects over the course of our 3-year apprenticeship program. It is a unique opportunity to learn the highest standards of workmanship and from experienced, professional site and workshop managers. 

The Barr Group Open Day held back in October last year focused on promotion of our apprenticeship scheme and brought young people from across the local community in to take a look at what we have to offer.  The star of the day was Alex, a 17 year old sixth form girl, who was keen to investigate the avenue of a degree apprenticeship as an alternative path to university to develop her skills in design tech and hands on bench joinery.  It was exciting to meet a young woman with an already established interest in what we do here at the Barr Group companies. We hope that she is at the vanguard of a changing tide.

Can we take this chance to show our appreciation for our own fantastic and invaluable Barr Group apprentices: at Level 3 - Justin, Sasha and Will, Level 2 - Louis, Ryan, Harry and Jotham and Level 1 - Louis, George and Bek. Where would we be without you all - keep up the great work! 

Also huge congratulations to the OAA winners last night: Emily, Jessica, Sasha, Gemma and Chloe (x2 awards!).  Congratulations also to Farringdon Community College (winners of the OA School Award) who ‘regard achievement through Apprenticeships as equal to Oxbridge success’. Finally, congratulations to Abingdon and Whitney College (OAA Training Provider winner). Through their delivery of high quality apprenticeships they are actively encouraging more women into the industry.

According to Gov.UK there has never been a better time to employ an apprentice, or to start an apprenticeship.  Here are a few geeky apprentice stats:

  • Up to 28,000 apprenticeship vacancies are available online at any one time. This compares to over 1.5 million applications per year - one hotly contested place per fifty applicants!
  • Apprenticeships are available in 1500 job roles, covering more than 170 industries, from advertising to youth work and from environmental engineering to legal.
  • More than 2,600 employers are involved in designing the new apprenticeships standards.
  • Apprenticeship participation now stands at a record level, with close to a million funded apprentices.
  • Apprentices are most satisfied with the relevance of their training (89%), the quality of training (87%), their assessment on the job (86%) and the quality of feedback (86%).
  • Almost 90% of employers tell us that apprenticeships deliver; 75% report that it has helped their business improve the quality of their product or service.
  • There are currently 100 higher and degree apprenticeships available, with more in development, including foundation degrees, HNDs and full honours degrees. These include job roles ranging from legal services to banking and engineering.
  • After finishing, 7 in 10 apprentices (77%) stay with the same employer.
  • 36% of higher apprentices report getting a promotion after completing their apprenticeship.
  • Over 90% of alumni of apprenticeship schemes felt that it had had a positive impact on their career.

Our apprentices are the lifeblood of our company. As an organisation with stringent standards, training individuals from grass roots gives us the opportunity to pass on our values, standards and ethos as well as specialist skills. For our Apprentices there is the opportunity to climb the ranks of the company - in turn passing on their own skills and knowledge. Apprenticeships have been close to the heart of our director Stuart Barr.  Following on from National Apprentice Week, we have just started recruiting for our September 2017 apprentice intake. Should you wish to apply please contact us.

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