Award recognition for Airdrie firm with strong commitment to apprentices

AN Airdrie employer dedicated to providing opportunities to people from under-represented groups has been recognised at the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards.

Bell Decorating Group offers work experience placements and taster days to a range of people including refugees, care leavers, ex-offenders, cadets and those leaving the military.

The firm has employed more than 1,000 apprentices since 1984 and will be offering a taster session to Ukrainian refugees on March 6 to promote apprenticeship vacancies.

Founder George Bell started out as an apprentice and today the painting and building maintenance contractor has a vision to employ 100 apprentices a year nationally over the next five years.

The business currently employs 89 apprentices in Scotland, through modern apprenticeships in painting and decorating, carpentry and joinery, site management, occupational work supervision and construction management.

Julie Lawrenson, head of learning & organisational development, said, “Having recently had our application to offer jobs to Ukrainians granted by the Home Office, we are currently working on a specific project in Scotland in collaboration with key partners by opening doors to promote the construction sector and apprenticeship vacancies to refugees.

“We are currently planning a series of events that will be delivered through our training centre in Airdrie during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.”

These initiatives have seen the Bell Group named as a finalist in this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Awards in the Large Employer of the Year – Promoting Diversity category.

The company retained all apprentices at its own training centre through the pandemic. Julie added, “We are proud of what we have achieved through our Apprenticeship Training Centre.  We were awarded a Scottish Government contract for the delivery of painting and decorating apprenticeships and opened in Spring 2020 just as the country went into lockdown.

“Despite the challenges of having to recruit and deliver our programme remotely for the first six months, we recruited 13 new apprentices and managed to sustain them on programme.  We have since recruited a further 24 apprentices who are being trained through our training centre and the aspiration is to grow our programme  year on year from 2023 with an aspiration this year to recruit an additional 40 apprentices across Scotland.”

The Scottish Apprenticeship Awards take place on March 8. The awards are organised by Skills Development Scotland and take place during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.