National Apprenticeship Week 2024

phs are proud to support work-based learning

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week 2024, our work-based learning lead Julie Harries reflects on how apprenticeships have transformed the business. Having been with phs for 4 years, Julie has seen the impact that a variety of initiative we offer can make. Whether it’s internships for young people with learning difficulties and/or autism, or apprenticeships for those starting, changing, or developing their careers. Work-based learning can be transformational for those wanting to get on the career ladder, who may not have the capital for years of pre-job training.

Across the phs sites, we currently have 110 people on apprenticeships, and have had 282 in total sign up for apprenticeships. So far, we have had 115 people complete apprenticeship and we have spent around £1.6m of the levy available to us. We have also transferred £50k of levies with an additional £100k allocated to 12 small businesses and charities to help them with training their own staff. At phs, apprenticeships are something we are deeply committed to.


Pictured: Julie Harries, phs Group’s work-based learning lead

Julie said: ‘We are currently working on one of our biggest multi-site projects with 17 apprentices. Many of these were existing members of staff who wanted to take the next step in their career with some formal training.

Early in 2023 we identified a need to better organise our depot warehouses and stock areas, implementing standardised ways of working to enhance efficiency, reduce waste and to introduce a culture of best practice and continuous improvement.’

As part of this implementation, we identified the 5S workplace organisation methodology as a simple and effective way to introduce these improvements – Sort, Set, Shine, Standardise and Sustain. Essentially this involves the simple sorting of areas to remove all unnecessary waste, setting in order by marking out and clearly defining boundaries, shining to clean and clearly mark out usable spaces, standardised across the network for consistency and finally to sustain these enhanced standards through ongoing reviews. The 5S process includes regular auditing and sharing of best practice until it becomes a standard way of working and is embedded within the Lean Manufacturing and Improvement Technician apprenticeships.

As an industry leader, phs Group strives to set the standard when it comes to business practices and working processes. Through the implementation of 5S workplace organisation we saw an opportunity to develop our colleagues working in these areas by introducing world renowned and tested principles of working. For some this creates a daunting prospect – going back to a ‘learning and testing’ school type environment. However, for our apprentices the work is evidence based within the workplace encompassing regular reviews with an assessor. This makes it ‘real’ and easier to identify with and not just a theory, which is attractive to those already on their career journey.

The resulting qualifications equip them with the knowledge, skills, and behaviours necessary to resolve operational problems, prevent them occurring again, engage others in issues and support the improvement of performance in our depots. Of course, we hope that the apprentices will stay with phs and continue to be supported in lifelong learning throughout their career, but either way, the qualifications will put them in good stead to achieve wherever they go.

Here's to our apprentices, the future of phs, and the incredible impact they're set to make!

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