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Power of apprenticeships

Harriet Stuchbury, Senior Consultant at LCMB on how SMEs within the FM sector can benefit from the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer scheme

We spend up to 90 per cent of our working lives in buildings, so at LCMB, we have made it our mission to make sure that our buildings and workplaces perform as well as they possibly can. We are a small team of specialist consultants based in Adderbury, in Oxfordshire and though we may be small, our client list is as large and diverse as a Facilities Manager’s To Do list.

Our consultants are subject matter experts who help our clients navigate challenges, improve operations, and achieve their goals by offering expertise, objective analysis and practical solutions. From concept through to completion, LCMB deliver building optimisation projects that improve your workplaces’ infrastructure and facilities, energy consumption, and performance, by delivering a sustainable programme that will drive tangible cost savings and improve your return on investment.

As an SME in the FM sector, we are noticing, much like other businesses across the sector, that there is a significant skills shortage. With our range of projects, we need to be agile, adaptable, and have breadth as well as depth of experience. Taking on a degree apprentice gives that individual the experience of the workplace while they are learning (and earning!). Being both student and consultant gives them the skills to adapt to solve the task at hand, which as a consultant is a vital skill. It also helps increase our productivity, which is not to say we give the “boring” or “less-important” jobs to the apprentice.


Our Degree Apprentice Consultant, Dominic Hayes, started with us in September 2023. He has been doing data analysis of energy consumption for a number of NHS hospitals, providing support in report writing for a top London university, and project management support for a large UK business park. We feel that giving him tasks that contribute to his learning and make a real-life impact in the work that we produce for our clients shows that we trust him straight away, and gives him a sense of responsibility and ownership.

Hayes is working towards achieving a BEng (Hons) Building Service Design Engineer Level 6, which covers areas such as heating and ventilation systems, internal environment and comfort, construction practice, energy management, and building services engineering principles. The modules suit both our business and client requirements as we deliver projects that help our clients improve their building infrastructure, and seek to save costs on energy. These are all modules that Dom has been able to put into immediate practice.

Hayes has said “My daily responsibilities at LCMB compliment my studies, and I find the work I do at university seamlessly integrates with my role. There is a broad scope of technical knowledge I acquire from university work which I can apply directly to my job, such as understanding technical drawings, and using software such as AutoCAD and Revit. This connection between academic learning and practical application ensures a well-rounded approach to my skill development.”


As an Oxfordshire based SME, we have always had a close relationship with Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) Skills, a local organisation who aim to maximise the full potential of every person who lives and works in the county. They have supported us previously with advertising job roles, and have made us aware of careers fairs aimed at school leavers. It was OxLEP who made us aware of the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer, a scheme where employers who do not utilise all their apprenticeship levy themselves can pledge up to 25 per cent of their funds to support SMEs, charities, and social enterprises.


OxLEP’s Apprenticeship Advisor, Leah Bryan, matched us with kitchens, joinery, and hardware firm, Howdens, who made a pledge of £79,000 of their levy, specifically to support construction apprenticeships in Oxfordshire. Emma Leech, Howdens’ Early Careers Manager said of the relationship: “Howdens is founded on the principle of being worthwhile for all concerned. We are committed to helping create opportunities for people to learn new skills in our industry, which is why we have partnered with OxLEP to use our levy transfers to fund apprenticeships in a variety of trades.”

Being matched with Howdens and receiving their pledge with the support of Bryan and OxLEP Skills was a straightforward process for us, and we would encourage other SMEs to do the same. It required very little effort from our side, but the benefit is huge! By taking advantage of Howdens generous pledge, we are not only able to provide valuable experience and learning opportunities for our degree apprentice, but we are also contributing to the growth and development of the construction industry in Oxfordshire. This collaborative approach ensures that we are addressing the skills shortage in our sector while also supporting the local community and economy.

At LCMB, we believe in the power of apprenticeships to bridge the skills gap and drive innovation in the FM and construction sector. We strongly urge other SMEs to get in touch with their Local Enterprise Partnership, explore the Apprenticeship Levy Transfer scheme, and take advantage of the opportunity to nurture talent, support local skills development, and contribute to the overall growth and success of their industry.

About Sarah OBeirne

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