Amey – Recruiting apprentices

Amey says “Creating better places is our purpose and our passion”.

Its team of 20,000 work across four continents – making them a leading supplier of consulting and infrastructure support services both in the UK and internationally.

It creates safer, smarter, and sustainable places to live, work and travel. By designing, building, maintaining and investing in the country’s services and infrastructure it makes a difference through engineering, facilities management, utilities, transport, environmental services, defence and justice.

What did they do?

The aims and objectives of its apprenticeship scheme are:

It has carried out a variety of activities to promote the scheme including:

  • Video and social media campaign for National Apprenticeship Week to encourage applications from women and candidates from BAME backgrounds.
  • Refreshed visuals of apprentices to promote the programme and ensure it represented diverse apprentices from across the business.
  • Created videos and profile of diverse apprentices speaking about their experiences to highlight how genuinely passionate they are about their jobs and the support that they receive from the company.
  • Social media diversity campaigning through promoting apprenticeship opportunities on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, by using cases studies, profiles, and videos and ensuring they reflect and attract apprentices from diverse backgrounds.
  • Supporting managers in diverse apprenticeship recruitment. All managers recruiting apprentices have completed Unconscious Bias training and also supported by a specialist advisor to ensure people from diverse backgrounds are represented in short listing and interviews

DUKE OF EDINBURGH AWARD (DofE):

In 2002, when Amey’s partnership started with DofE, 131,036 young people embarked on their DofE. By 2016, 253,005 more young people had started their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award journey.

With 93% more young people starting out on their DofE and 96% more young people achieving awards between 2002 and 2016, Amey’s sustained support of DofE over 15 years has enabled the charity to almost double the number of young people given the chance of transforming their lives and putting them on a path to success. Amey’s investment during 2015/16 enabled:

  • the charity to employ ten new DofE Operations Officers (each supporting up to 300 schools benefiting over 3,000 young people);
  • DofE Operations Officers to support, guide and train DofE volunteers to help 253,005 young people start their DofE journey of transformation and fulfilment – a record-breaking 6% increase on last year - with 41,667 of those from the most disadvantaged areas of the UK;
  • DofE Operations Officers to get the DofE up and running in 13,218 schools, prisons, housing associations, scout groups, cadet forces and youth clubs; and
  • 50,000 DofE volunteers to guide, coach, motivate and inspire 119,892 young people achieve their ambition of a Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Award, a 7% increase on last year.

STEM

  • Amey are focused on attracting more young people into STEM through500 touchpoints with young people via our STEM ambassadors every year, and its role in co-developing a STEM Brownie badge that was trialled in 2017 by 500 girls.

What was the impact?

The statistics speak for themselves. Its female apprentices have increased to 17.65% in 2017, from 11.39% in 2015. Representation of BAME apprentices is up from 6% in 2015 to 9% in 2017. In 2015, no employees declared themselves as having a disability. In 2016 it was 1% and by 2017 it was up to 35. The company continues to work on disclosure with the support of Scope.

Amey is retaining those who join the organisation through its pro-active, diverse approach to recruitment, such as its video of female Operations Manager who started as an apprentice.

Apprentices have signed up to the LGBTA network and have been identified as being active although the numbers are unknown due to confidentiality. There are more than 600 members across Amey.

Since 2010, over 500 young people have taken part in the DofE award scheme through Amey. Typically 40% of participants in DofE come from a disadvantaged background.

  • 79% of DofE participants believe the DofE helped them to become more independent.
  • 74% feel that their DofE develops self-belief and self-esteem, increasing their confidence levels and self-resilience.
  • 93% felt doing their DofE has helped them to develop team working skills.
  • 77% said doing a DofE Award (Bronze, Silver or Gold) develops problem-solving skills.

Where there any challenges?

The greatest challenge is that posed by wider society. Those with disabilities are switched off from applying to large organisations. Candidates from a disadvantaged background are difficult to reach to attract into the apprenticeship scheme. The LGBT community are nervous of working in what is perceived to be a traditional sector. From a young age, girls are not encouraged towards careers in engineering.

Internally, there is always a focus on productivity and having the people to do the job. Inevitably asking managers to take more time and think more broadly about recruitment is a challenge.

Hints and Tips

One of the most powerful exercises Amey has undertaken was to ask managers to think of their own family – daughters, mothers, nieces, family with disabilities, friends from the BAME or disabled community and pose the question – ‘are you okay telling your family / friends that they are less welcome to work at Amey?’. This activity really made people think.

To reach the under-represented groups, it does really help to have the right imagery and messaging from day one. However the best approach has been to ask apprentices from different backgrounds to go and talk to others – face to face if possible or through social media. Potential apprentices believe real apprentices more than the marketing ‘blurb’ of a large organisation.

“Recruiting apprentices from diverse backgrounds in the sectors in which we work continues to be a challenge. We have improved diversity with regard to gender, BAME and disability over the last few years, and in September 2017 we were awarded Leaders in Diversity status for our pro-active approach. That said, we recognise we have a long way to go.”

Ian Deninson, Group HR Director