The fact that Eastbourne-based ductwork contractor Hotchkiss has archives that record taking “Frederick George Scarlett as an apprentice for a term of four years from the 20th day of January 1911 to the 20th day of January 1915” gives an indication of its longstanding commitment to training.



Today, it is still usually a period of four years, but takes the form of the Modern Apprenticeship system, with three distinct career paths: office apprenticeships in engineering or surveying, workshop apprenticeships in ductwork manufacture and site apprenticeships in ductwork installation. But what really makes Hotchkiss stand out is that, once it has a trainee, it is loath to let them go. Impressively, between 80% and 90% of Hotchkiss’ employees have been through its apprenticeship scheme, including the contracts director and works manager. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Frederick George Scarlett was still working somewhere in the firm’s management structure.

Hotchkiss’ Ben Harvey receiving the HVCA Apprentice Ductwork Installer of the Year award for 2005

Hotchkiss’ Ben Harvey receiving the HVCA Apprentice Ductwork Installer of the Year award for 2005

Highly commended

Schooling Building Contractors

For a company employing just 19 people, this firm has a truly impressive approach to training. With CITB-ConstructionSkills it formulated a training plan that has resulted in an Investors in People award, a 50% increase in turnover and a 40% rise in the number of staff. It is an example to all small contractors who fear the impact that such measures will have on their margins.


Debut Assessment Services

When Debut won a Ministry of Defence regional prime contract in south-west England, it quickly realised that a common training plan would be required for all the partners in the venture, some 550 staff in total. It’s now well on its way to achieving Investor in People status this December.


Building envelope contractor Lakesmere proudly boasts that it recorded 1500 training days for its 150 staff last year – days that came in handy when it was carrying out the particularly tricky installation of three glazed viewing platforms some 150 m in the air on Portsmouth Harbour’s Spinnaker Tower. Mitie Engineering Services

Mitie’s 96 trainees and apprentices range from school leavers learning a trade to QSs completing degrees and office-based staff taking NVQs in administration. Adult trainees have been recruited from the long-term unemployed, while high fliers are offered a management development programme and an MBA training programme.

Stent Foundations

In the past year Stent has developed the grand-sounding “Competency Matrix” – a review process that provides a means of assessing the capability of their staff for training, development and succession planning. Through this initiative, managers recognise all possible avenues for learning.