Stirling firm Akela Group marks Scottish Apprenticeship Week
For Scottish Apprenticeship Week, two young people completing their apprenticeships at DGM Surfacing, part of the Akela Group discussed their experiences.
DGM Surfacing, one of Scotland’s leading surfacing contractors, is headquartered in Stirling and works across the whole of Scotland and the North of England.
DGM Surfacing’s two apprentices, William Mailley and Cole Connell, are on a three-year apprenticeship which cover all aspects of surfacing works in highway, commercial and domestic environments. As well as general labouring, the apprentices are given their own responsibilities to develop their knowledge base and experience and are monitored through continuous assessment.
William is working at a site in St. Andrews and started with DGM Surfacing in March 2021. When leaving school, William found there was a lack of advice or guidance relating to modern apprenticeships. He sought advice from his dad who works in the construction industry and was keen to follow a similar career path.
Unlike William, Cole’s guidance teacher helped him gain work experience with a local joinery firm, which led him into the construction industry and he joined DGM Surfacing in August 2022.
Like most other companies in the sector the Akela Group has felt the effects of the skills shortage. To counteract this, the group has invested in their workforce through modern apprenticeships to strengthen and grow their skills base.
Managing director, Mark Markey, believes this to be a key part of Akela’s future. He said: “Apprentices have always been an integral part of our business, but with the current skills shortage, caused by various factors generally including Brexit, the pandemic and an ageing workforce, they are even more valuable now. I think it is important for our apprentices to feel challenged and nurtured within the company and hope the program we have developed in DGM Surfacing can provide this and offer a long-term career.”
Asked if he thinks an apprenticeship will give him more opportunities than other routes, William said: “Absolutely, all the team are really experienced which helps with my own personal development’. Cole agrees, ‘the fast-paced work environment helps accelerate my training and makes me think on my feet. The team is always helping me and letting me try new work techniques.”
The company culture plays a huge role in their work satisfaction too. Both agree that the people working at DGM Surfacing are the best part of the job. So much so that William and Cole want to stay with the company in the future. William added: “There are opportunities to progress with DGM Surfacing and Akela Group as a whole. I hope to become fully skilled and have my own squad one day.”
As well as starting on their career path, the apprenticeships are also providing the opportunity for personal development. William said: “Now that I have a steady income, I would like to begin driving lessons.” Cole is also learning to drive and is looking forward to funding his own holiday abroad this year.
Mark Markey concluded: “It is heartening to know the power of an apprenticeship for transforming the prospects of our young people. Ultimately, they are the future of our business and the construction sector can benefit from investing more in them.”