Cyfle Building Skills is a South West Wales initiative which offers innovative and original teaching methods whereby young apprentices are shared among various employers to develop their practical skills.
The ground-breaking scheme, supported by CITB, the Welsh Government and various stakeholders is the first of its kind in the UK, and Cyfle currently employs the largest number of construction shared apprentices in the country. The scheme operates within five regional boundaries, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, and the shared apprentices are provided with a theory-based education in the regional colleges while also being offered the chance of practical work in various trades.
The project, in which Cyfle’s apprentices work with various employers over the two years rather working with one fixed employer, provides an alternative route into an apprenticeship as opposed to the traditional route. This system offers numerous advantages to both the
apprentice and the employer.
Due to uncertain work schedules, employers sometimes are unable to offer guaranteed work to the apprentices and thus cannot afford to take them on despite having a desire to. Cyfle’s scheme eliminates the need for the businesses to take on apprentices full time, and thus allows both the apprentice and employer greater flexibility in their work opportunities.
Furthermore, Cyfle’s scheme aims to transform the learning experiences of construction apprentices by accentuating their craft skills development, broadening their vocational knowledge and sharing their experiences through a consortium of employers and the flexible shared system of apprentices has been described as the “ultimate work-based learning experience” for future tradespeople.
Since its inception in 2013, the scheme has proved a success. With 70 shared apprentices employed in five trades in its initial year, the number of shared apprentices has increased, spanning across seven trades in the four years since. To date, the organisations have employed over 360 shared apprentices, and thus are reducing the unemployment levels in the region, while presenting construction as a sustainable career for young tradespeople.