There’s ‘never been a better time’ for plant owners to take on an apprentice

THE Scottish Plant Owners Association (SPOA) has urged plant owners to consider taking on an apprentice to help secure the future of the industry.

The trade body highlighted that funding is in place for plant owners to access, including an apprenticeship grant of up to £14,500 as well as a further £500 for those employers with a wage bill lower than £400,000.

Financially, the SPOA revealed that the incentives mean that there has ‘never been a better time’ to start an apprentice.

The new intake of apprentices at the CITB’s National Construction College at Bircham Newton started this month. The SPOA said the arrangement with the college means that the team can accommodate new cohorts of apprentices throughout the year, so businesses are not limited to traditional academic term times.

There is still time and space to get another group of apprentices started before the year end.

Callum Mackintosh, president of the SPOA, said, “Having visited the National Construction College numerous times over the last 14 months, I am always impressed at the level of knowledge being passed on by the trainers and assessors at the college. All of them are first class operators having made their own journey through the college in the 70s, 80s and 90s and going on to cut their teeth on quarrying, muck shifting and deep drainage, not just plot works like most would assume.

“I firmly believe that it is our duty at the SPOA to support the future of the industry and as such I make a point of visiting each of the cohorts at the College, offering our support and ensuring that the course is being delivered to consistently high standards.”

In recent years, trainees from all over Scotland have attended the facility at Bircham Newton in Norfolk to gain a solid grounding in machine operations including excavators, backhoes, site dumpers and telehandlers. Once competence is demonstrated during training towards the assessment criteria, apprentices are continually challenged with new site-oriented tasks over the 450-acre training site to ensure they are as ‘site-ready’ as possible.

One plant operator apprentice, 32-year-old Deklyn Feather from EMN Plant, said, “The most enjoyable thing about the apprenticeship scheme at Bircham Newton is operating new and large plant with very helpful and knowledgeable instructors.”

Employers interested in starting a plant mechanic or operator apprentice can contact the dedicated plant apprenticeship contact at the CITB, John Bond, on 07920 781661.

The SPOA added that it is also happy to support employers interested in starting an apprentice but struggling to find a suitable candidate by working with them to generate interest in the local area. Employers are encouraged to contact the association at