Case studies

South West Water

Leading the South West in recruiting and employing apprentices

With its established apprenticeship programme, which was introduced in 2011, South West Water is leading the South West in recruiting, developing and employing apprentices.

The water utility has been recognised as one of the top 100 Apprentice Employers in the country.  It has around 60 current and graduating apprentices on its books – some five percent of its work force.

Apprentices at South West Water work in a range of operational and business support roles and the company is planning to recruit up to 40 apprentices in 2015 to work right across its business.  Roles vary from the hands-on engineering and water operation through to information services, communications, contact centre operations, finance or facilities management.

South West Water Apprentice Recruits 2014

Organisational Development Manager Nigel Fenn, who chairs a regional group of employers who champion apprenticeships within their business networks, said South West Water has an impressive track record in developing and employing apprentices.

“We strongly believe in supporting apprentices as they make the transition into a business environment and find their feet.  Virtually all of our Operations apprentices successfully completed their apprenticeship and have progressed to permanent roles within the company, which is a fantastic achievement for both them and us,” he said.

“We quickly recognised the long-term benefits of investing in an apprenticeship programme. It helps our succession planning and enables us to grow our own talent who develop the skills our business needs for the future.”

“Apprenticeships provide expertise relevant and specific to our business.  Our programme has definitely addressed the skills shortage we have faced in recent years.  We value our apprentices and the contribution they make.  And we certainly encourage the innovation and fresh approach they bring to the team dynamics.  With so many of our graduating apprentices undertaking further study, we see the programme as a ‘win win’ outcome for both the apprentice starting their career and for South West Water as an employer of such talented employees.”

Apprentices say they appreciate working for a dynamic and innovative company with a wide range of opportunities, and a number of South West Water apprentices have been recognised as outstanding students by the colleges they attend.

Josh Gotts, a former apprentice and now a South West Water Craftsperson, was taken on permanently after only 18 months of his three year apprenticeship.

He said: “The apprenticeship has not only helped me gain invaluable technical experience but also the communication skills required in business to operate effectively.”