Sponsored study integral part of Gleeds’ operation
Stuart Earl, head of training and development at Gleeds, shapes on the job and academic training for over 1600 Gleeds employees. Here, Stuart answers questions on how sponsored study has been integral to the success of Gleeds for over 25 years, and how degree apprenticeships are changing the face of training in the industry.
What training does Gleeds offer and how many members of staff are currently involved in sponsored study?
Gleeds has been sponsoring employee study through part time education for 27 years. In the UK, we currently have up to 40 people involved in sponsored study, including part time degree courses, part time master’s courses and postgraduate diplomas.
Tell us about the recruitment and selection process
People come to us through a range of different paths and we actively encourage a diversity of background and skillset within our teams because we believe variety is the key to a strong workforce. There’s a good sporting analogy: nobody wants eleven goal-keepers or eleven strikers in their team.
How are Gleeds people matched to institutions and courses?
The matchmaking of an employee to an institution and course often comes down to geography and the background of the student. Some will study building surveying, others quantity surveying.
Non-cognates typically go down the master’s route. Those who have done a full time relevant degree or a course including industry work experience, will begin their in-house training straight away. Those who choose the new degree apprenticeships are likely to be school leavers (post A-levels) who want to study on the job, avoiding the costs of a standard degree by working as they study and having the security of an employer to support them. There are also those who do a full time degree, but come to us for their placement year, or one or two days a week for work experience and/or holiday work.
Does the cost of funding training sometimes become disincentive as an employer?
It costs £27-29K to put somebody through a part time course, a cost that is borne by the employer. That’s a considerable sum of money, but I believe this is more than worthwhile; it’s an investment in our biggest asset – our people.
We’ve got the hard evidence to prove that the investment is worth it. Our internal research has shown that investment on training is more than covered within 12 months of its completion by the increase in fee earning potential of those employees who benefit from it.
In business, people often get hung up on the hard cost of training – but we always end up earning our money back, many times over. Having a workforce that is well trained and good at their job is crucial when your business is people. It’s such a false economy to cut back on training.
How would you sum up the benefits of degree apprenticeships as an employer and for your staff?
With degree apprenticeship courses, employers are involved in the structuring, content and focus of the learning on offer, so we know that the result will be a study programme that’s relevant to the workplace. There is more of a match between academic learning and the practical knowledge employees need to make good surveyors. There’s increased engagement between the training providers and the employers, which benefits everybody.
Aside from the fact that we need employees who are well trained and ready for the workforce, the new government levy means we also have a vested financial interest in encouraging our new staff to study on degree apprenticeship courses.
What are your future plans for staff training and development at Gleeds?
If the opportunities for the apprenticeships realise themselves, then these courses will become the default training route for school-leavers joining the business.
We are continually liaising with local university providers to strengthen partnerships and ensure two-way dialogue and collaboration. We’re passionate about ensuring the study programmes our employees sign up to harvest graduates equipped with an academic qualification that fits the practical applications of the industry.