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Investing in People - Apprenticeship Programme

Apprenticeship Programme

Our purpose is 'doing good' and we will continue to deliver this through our teams of diverse colleagues working across our business. Our people help us to better understand local communities, helping us think more creatively and challenge ourselves to do better.

Britain is facing a serious skills shortage. There are far too few people entering into essential highly skilled trade roles and this is causing a shortage of tradespersons throughout the country. A common-held misperception is that the academic route is the only option for career development and successful employment. This is not the case at ODS. We value our people and we have an environment where equity is an expectation.

We are proud to have an innovative apprenticeship programme. Our success has meant that we have been able to increase customer value and build an organisation that is both sustainable, and stronger. By investing in young people and those looking for an opportunity to kickstart their careers, ODS can help secure its future whilst providing life-long skills for people throughout the region.

The apprenticeship programme is ambitious. Each year, beginning in May, ODS visits schools and colleges, reaching out directly to young people to communicate the benefits of starting their careers through an apprenticeship programme.

ODS focuses on seeking out those who have a spark of ambition and a desire to learn. A candidate’s previous academic achievement is not always the best indicator of their potential and ODS prioritises personality and a desire to succeed ahead of exam grades.

Our focus is to challenge and break down long-held stereotypes and misconceptions – introducing people from diverse backgrounds to roles they may not have previously considered. ODS specifically encourages young women to think about trade roles as electricians, plumbers or carpenters – offering opportunities for the right candidates that share our values.

Our business endeavours to demonstrate that a career with us as a skilled tradesperson provides long-term employment security, progression opportunities, and the chance to deliver real-world value to the local community. Aside from the more traditional vocations, ODS offers a wide range of apprenticeships from hands-on trades in Horticulture and Civil Engineering through to office-based roles in HR, Procurement, and Finance.

An apprenticeship at ODS can take up to four years to complete, but each apprentice enters at a full living wage, higher than some other apprentice wages offered by other organisations. What’s more, ODS apprentices enjoy a balance of three or four days at ODS, learning their skills on the job, with one or two days at college to learn in a classroom environment and become fully qualified in their industry.

Each apprentice is nurtured and supported every step of the way by a supervisor who works with them on a day-to-day basis, and an ODS mentor who meets them regularly to offer pastoral support. ODS liaises with the education providers who provide tutors and assessors for their study programme. As well as the day-to-day work with their supervisors ODS also provides a comprehensive learning programme for their apprentices that focuses on important life skills such as mental health support and career development.

In 2022, a cohort of young individuals entered the Apprenticeship Programme. They joined ODS, taking roles in Motor Transport, Plumbing, IT, HR and Customer Service, Electrical and Carpentry.