A case study: How one of the UK’s top Real Estate companies has leveraged apprenticeships

Posted on: 2018-05-25

In our latest employer case study blog, we speak with Ema Saunders, Graduate Programme Director at Savills, who provides insight into the benefits of apprenticeships and gives advice for other employers looking to take on apprentices.

I began working at Savills nearly 12 years ago, starting off in the HR team looking after graduate and professional training. Since this time, the company has grown massively in size and there has been enormous commitment from Savills into talent development within the company. Savills took on 10 graduates in the first year I worked with them, and this year the company has taken on more than 100.

A few years ago, Savills registered with UCEM as its apprenticeship provider of choice. We believe that the content and delivery of the programmes with UCEM is of an exceptionally high calibre. Currently, we have both Level 3 and Level 6 apprentices on board, who are studying the surveying or building surveying programmes.

It’s really interesting to see a population of junior talent who want to get stuck straight into work and don’t necessarily want to study in the traditional way. An apprenticeship offers a great route into a career; it also provides a great work/life balance and the ability to earn money as you study. At Savills, we benchmark on salary and by the point the apprentices enrol on the APC, we pay them the same as graduates who have been to university.

The Real Estate industry is a very sociable working environment, there are ­lots of regular networking opportunities with industry peers.  This allows apprentices to build relationships within the industry in the same way students at university do.

By taking on apprentices, Savills is also broadening its socio-economic attraction to those who might not be able to afford to study full time without working. Our apprentices come from a variety of backgrounds, often with different experiences, all of which adds value to what we offer our clients.  We place a huge emphasis on attitude and potential when considering future talent, irrespective of whether people are applying for our graduate or apprentice scheme.

We have also found it’s very useful to be able to train people for the job you want them to do. With traditional degree graduates, you get someone who has learnt without having the practical context of work. A lot of our graduates say that just one month of practical work in the business enhances and adds context to their time at university. The value of working at the same time is therefore complimentary to their education. We recognise the value in building business skills as well as technical capability.

When it comes to hiring apprentices at Savills, our strategy has been to engage with teams to assess need and appetite. We haven’t had a quota on how many apprentices should be hired, as we believe that organic growth of the scheme will come as a result of highlighting success and opportunity to the firm. We have let the business select candidates they feel will work well for them and who add something to the team dynamic. This is a much more bespoke way of building skillsets within our company and has been very successful to date with the number of apprentices being requested by the business growing each year.

If I were to offer advice to other companies looking to bring on apprentices, it would be to not underestimate the amount of support someone may need when coming from education into business. Working closely with apprentices and explaining exactly what is expected from induction is important. And in turn, don’t underestimate them and their capability. Savills has been hugely impressed by the calibre of people and we have had 100% retention rate in the last three years, which is fantastic.

An apprentice’s eye view

Sam Gilligan, an apprentice at Savills who’s studying with UCEM added, “Having been an apprentice in the London retail property management team since September 2016, I can confidently say that the level of trust instilled by my colleagues has substantially enhanced my career development – both within the team as well as when dealing with clients on a daily basis.

Sam continued, “The clear benefits of being an apprentice within Savills is that I have the opportunity to work and gain the relevant experience in one of the UK’s top Real Estate companies, which continuously assists me throughout my company funded BSc Hons in Real Estate Management. The programme has undoubtedly given me a unique advantage to progress in the sector, upon graduation from the University College of Estate Management. I will also hold four extremely valuable years of experience within the Real Estate industry.”

At UCEM we are proud to support a huge number of businesses with their staffing and recruitment of talent. Apprenticeships can be used to develop the future skills of your business through development of existing members of your workforce or through recruitment of new members of staff. Apprenticeship levy funding can be used to fund a number of our programmes including the Level 3 (Surveying Technician Diploma), Level 6 (Chartered Surveyor degree) and Level 7 (Senior Leader Master’s). Our apprentices are taught via blended learning comprising supported online education and face-to-face workshops.