In anticipation of National Apprenticeship Week 2015, which runs from today (9 March) until Friday 13 March, Gordon Birtwistle MP recently paid a visit to Travis Perkins and City Plumbing Supplies branches to find out more about the company’s apprenticeship schemes.

A former apprentice himself, Mr Birtwistle, Government Ambassador for Apprenticeships, received a tour of the branches last week.

“I had a really interesting visit and met some very impressive Travis Perkins apprentices – everyone I met was an absolute credit to the company,” he said. “I was really impressed with the level of trust and responsibility the apprentices had. It was great to see that they were learning key management skills and already had a sound knowledge of profit and loss and return on capital.

“Apprenticeships are vitally important; we need to train young people today to do the jobs of the future. I’d encourage anyone thinking of becoming an apprentice to just get out there and go for it.”

Louise Powell, head of training at Travis Perkins, added: “It was fantastic to meet Mr Birtwistle and explain all about our apprenticeship schemes. Here at Travis Perkins plc, our apprenticeship programmes ensure that we have really talented people at every level of our business. Each and every apprentice has a full-time job from day one, and we hope that they’ll enjoy working with Travis Perkins for years to come – just like our very own chief executive officer, who started out as a Travis Perkins management trainee over 35 years ago!

“We’re bringing out more apprenticeship schemes this year, to cover multiple areas of our business, and we will remain committed to helping young people to progress and develop in their career.”

Two of the company’s new schemes will be dedicated to young people, with ‘young grafters’ allowing 14 to 16 year olds to apply for work placements, and ‘traineeships’ giving young adults aged 16 to 19 the opportunity to gain essential skills such as CV writing, interview skills and working as part of a team, in addition to branch work experience. These new programmes join the existing branch and management apprenticeships, which are open to all ages.

The Group also has three initiatives in place to address the issue of young women finding it difficult to progress in the industry: a supportive women’s community network; the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award (for women under the age of 23); and unconscious bias training across the group to challenge employees’ attitudes.