Does ‘Generation Z’ provide the perfect apprentices?

WHEN your company’s workload begins to pile up and you need an extra pair of hands on a project, there are a few avenues you can take.

You can hire a freelancer, get in touch with a contractor, or spend every waking moment working on things yourself – the latter by the way is not a great option.

Recently, though, more and more businesses are taking advantage of an underestimated option: apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for businesses to gain productive, enthusiastic workers while also investing in developing skilled employees.

As well as having the financial benefit of low-staff costs, they provide a great source of energy and fresh ideas. The government is also in full support, as the Apprenticeship Levy helps businesses fund apprentices with the aim of supporting quality training with employers at the centre.

If you’re looking to hire an apprentice, Generation Z, or Gen Z, is your hunting ground; they make up the vast majority of apprenticeships candidates today. Don’t be fooled into thinking they spend all their time glued to their phones, though: Gen Z is a vein of untapped potential.

What is Gen Z?

People often lump everyone under thirty in a category called ‘Millennials’ but this isn’t technically correct.

Millennials are categorised as those born between 1981 and 1994, making them 22-37 years of age today. This makes Gen Z – those born after 1995 – the workforce of tomorrow, so it’s important you know who they are and what drives them.

The benefits of hiring a Gen Z apprentice

1. They’re tech savvy

Whereas Millennials grew up in the digital age, Gen Z’ers were born into it. And while it might be tempting for some to bellyache about them being glued to their smartphones, Gen Z’s technophilia comes with a useful side-effect: they can easily wrap their heads around new technology.

For industries that are heavily rooted in computing or digital technologies, Gen Z apprentices are able to integrate into their role effortlessly.

So, whereas Brian from Accounting may not like the new operating system, a Gen Z apprentice will learn it inside out.

2. They’re masters of multitasking

When kids have grown up using streaming a YouTube tutorial as they Facetime a friend while adding shopping to their virtual basket, is it any surprise that they are skilled at multitasking? Whether they are posting, commenting or swiping, ‘Gen Z’ers’ have adapted to using multiple platforms simultaneously.

This ingrained skill is adaptable to almost any work environment, meaning you’ll have no trouble putting this to good use. This can be as simple as taking detailed minutes in a meeting or as complex as cross-platform data entry.

3. They have a short attention span (yes, that’s a good thing)

Gen Z’ers are constantly absorbing information, often in the blink of an eye. Spending their youth surrounded by apps such as Snapchat and Instagram has made receiving constant updates the norm, which has ultimately stunted their attention spans.

This has, however, given Gen Z’ers an advantage when it comes to absorbing information. As they’re accustomed to receiving a barrage of updates, Gen Z’ers have a knack for processing information faster than other generations and are highly adaptable to change, meaning they can absorb the barrage of updates in Monday’s meeting even when no one else can.

4. They are entrepreneurial thinkers

Gen Z’ers have grown up in a world of innovation, full of developing technology and connected to every corner of the globe. They’ve seen what’s possible and want a piece of the action for themselves.

This has resulted in a generation of young adults who are starting their careers with an entrepreneurial head on their shoulders. They are full of ideas - use them before someone else does!

Take your business into the next generation

Gen Z has an advantage over older generations, simply due to how they have been raised in the digital age.

By being familiar with new technology, expert multitaskers and full of fresh ideas they are in a great position to become an asset to your business.

Plus, as they are quick at absorbing new information, they are ideal candidates for training courses to help them develop further.

Ryan Latham, senior marketing executive for 3B Training, has experienced firsthand how businesses can benefit from hiring a Gen Z apprentice.

He said: “As a former apprentice myself I am definitely on board with the system, it’s a great opportunity to get on the first step of your career ladder.

"We also have a Gen Z’er apprentice working under me in our marketing department and she has been highly beneficial. She is highly tech-savvy and has actually taught me a thing or two about newer social platforms.

"She can complete tasks almost twice as fast as I can and to a great standard, don’t write off the Gen Z generation!”


How to upgrade your home this year

YOUR home is the centre of your life. It is where you come back to every day after work; where you and your family relax after a long day; where your friends come to hang out; and where you live with the people you love.

When your home is this important, you need to put the time and effort into making it great, so that it is a place you still look forward to spending time in.

To help you to put your home back in the spotlight, this handy guide is going to give you four great ways to make your house the home of your dreams.

Your windows

The first suggestion is one of the simplest but also one of the most effective: get new windows. You can find double glazed windows online and get a quote for your home.

One of the reasons why getting double-glazed windows will be a significant investment is because they will help to retain heat within your home.

This makes it cosier while also cutting down on your heating costs by providing extra insulation for you and your family.

The future of energy

Another thing you should think about when upgrading your home this year is the source of the energy in your home. When people contemplate this, they often just settle for changing energy providers, but a far better move is to have solar panels installed.

Some of the reasons to choose solar panels include:

  • Solar power is beneficial to the environment and will reduce your carbon footprint;
  • It means your home will be off the grid and self-sufficient;
  • Reduced electric bills, meaning the solar panels will pay for themselves.

New home, new you

The third idea for a home upgrade is to turn your attention to the inside of your home and consider what you could add and/or change to make it feel like yours.

Having a home interior that reflects your personality and interests will allow you to enjoy your time there more and be proud of the home you have. To get your place looking like this, you need to think about the interior design rules.

The main thing to consider is a colour scheme for your home. The best way to do this is to choose a light, neutral colour for the walls to be painted in (sometimes with a bold accent wall) and then have all your furniture and ornaments be of a complementary bolder colour or pattern.

Bring the outside in

There are many benefits to having houseplants in your home, such as improving the air quality and actually helping to reduce stress. Alongside this, houseplants can also help your home to look and smell fresher so that even in the midst of winter, your home has all the vitality of the spring months.

With these little changes, you will be able to live in a home that you truly love and will be excited to show your friends and extended family.


Office renovation tips

RENOVATING an office complex is one of the more common tasks for a construction company.

It is also one which needs a tremendous amount of thought, care and attention as you will want to deliver offices that are suitable for that particular business so no two projects will be the same.

There are a few key areas that always require extra attention, however, so make sure that you know exactly what is required and carry the work out with extra care and precision.

Read on for a few tips for office complex renovation which should help the project to be a success.

Understand the client's goals

As with any project, it is vital that you first understand exactly what the client wants.

This will include key factors such as how will they be using the space, what issues do they want to overcome/avoid, why they are getting changes made now, who will occupy the space and similar questions.

You also need to identify if there are any physical or financial limitations and if the building will be occupied while you carry out the work.

Work with the building strengths

Every building has its own strengths, so you need to look at its best features and work with these. If it has great views out of one window, for example, then you could look to open the office up to let everyone enjoy this view and bring in more natural light (a key element in any office complex).

Curb appeal

It is, of course, important to deliver a practical and attractive office space, but do not overlook the importance of curb appeal too.

This is particularly important if it is a business that regularly has clients visiting and will need to make a good first impression.

Curb appeal can be improved with plant life, ample parking, placards, glass doors, etc.


Safety is a key component of office renovation, so you need to keep this in mind at all times.

This will involve having fire exits, safety signs, ventilation, alarms and more. You should also make the area safe while carrying out the renovation work by closing areas off and placing warning signs around.


One of the most overlooked areas when it comes to office renovation is the bathroom.

This is a space which will be used frequently by everyone in the building so it should be a welcoming and well-designed space.

This should include commercial toilet cubicles which are secure, visually pleasing and of the highest quality.

This will have a huge impact on how people feel when they are in the building so it is an area that needs careful consideration.

Office renovation is a common yet difficult task for construction companies.

No two projects are the same and you must always carefully work with the client to understand their goals, but you should also keep the above aspects in mind as these are key factors no matter who the client is.

By listening, asking questions and keeping the key aspects in mind, it should help you to deliver a sleek, functional and attractive office complex for the client.


How important is saving for a pension in the construction industry?

WHEN you work in the construction industry, it can be hard to look past the project you are currently working on as there will be so much to focus on.

While it is smart to be focused on the task at hand, it is important to plan for the future particularly when it comes to retirement and your pension.

A pension will provide you with more money to enjoy when you finally decide to ‘pack it all in’ and start to lead a life of luxury.

What is more, if you are self-employed – as many builders, plumbers and carpenters are – then you will need to plan for your future even more.

Having a pension and planning for retirement is incredibly important, but it seems the total of savings has dropped amongst millennials since 2016 which is a cause for concern.

Confusion over pensions

One of the main reasons millennials and other groups are contributing less to their retirement is confusion over how pensions work. However, the duty of your employer to explain how pensions work, regardless of the industry.

Open a dialogue with your employers so that they can explain the process in more depth, if needed.

Learning about pensions

Portafina is a brilliant resource for learning everything you need to know about pensions. Here you can learn how pensions work, the benefits of having a pension, the different types of pension are available and how to manage your pension. Portafina can be used to make the intelligent decision about your pension so you can build towards a brighter future once you decide to retire from the construction industry.


One of the key aspects to be aware of when it comes to pensions is tax relief. When you add funds to your pot, the UK government will refund the amount of income tax that you've paid. This will help you to make huge savings in the long run (although there is a limit).

Additionally, there are tax breaks: the funds that you add to your pension are not taxed.

Compound interest

Essentially, this means the more savings that you put into your pension pot, the more money you’ll save as there is a snowball effect - this is compound of interest which Albert Einstein once claimed was “the eighth wonder of the world”.

Peace of mind

It is understandable millennials and other groups are struggling to add to their pension due to the cost of living and rent and property prices, but saving a small amount on a regular basis can go a long way and provide important peace of mind for you and your family.

Visit Portafina Discovery to find out more about pensions and how they can help to build towards a comfortable retirement after retiring from construction. You can also receive helpful updates at the Portafina LinkedIn, Portafina Facebook, Portafina Youtube and Twitter pages. Check out Portafina jobs for a rewarding career related to pensions.

JCB Finance: five-fold increase in Annual Investment Allowance opens window of opportunity for purchases

WITH so much disruption on the UK’s political landscape it may be difficult to see the wood for the trees.

Tucked away in the Autumn 2018 budget was a valuable temporary tax relief which has gone largely unnoticed but which could allow businesses to invest and grow - effectively benefitting from £1 tax relief for every £1 spent on plant and machinery purchases.

The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) relief allows expenditure on plant and machinery purchases up to the AIA limit to be set against company profits in the year the expenditure occurs.

In 2018 the AIA stood at £200,000 and rose to the new threshold of £1m from January 1st 2019 for two years, making it a valuable incentive for large-scale investment for growth or replacement of ageing equipment and machinery.

But with a deadline of January 1st 2021 when the allowance reverts back to its former £200,000, it is essential that any company embarking on significant capital expenditure begins consulting with their accountant now to maximise on any available tax relief.

Poor planning and timing could mean missing out on the available tax relief, or even worse, paying more tax than is required.

By increasing the relief on qualifying expenditure up to a £1,000,000 limit, those businesses already spending up to the £200,000 threshold have a considerable incentive to increase or bring forward their capital expenditure on plant and machinery.

JCB Finance Managing Director, Paul Jennings said: “This important tax incentive allows 100% tax relief in the first year and is designed to encourage businesses to invest in plant, machinery, commercial vehicles and a broad range of other assets. 

“Depending on the business’ rate of tax, it is an open invitation to invest in plant and machinery and secure the equivalent of a 19% to 45% subsidy.

Better still – if you acquire the plant via a Hire Purchase agreement the acquisition, for tax purposes, is treated as if cash had been paid. Plus any interest payable is tax deductible too.

“However, different financial year ends will affect the proportion and timing of expenditure. Getting the timing and the amounts right is crucial to your business.

"We are already recommending to our customers that they speak to their accountant and to our JCB Finance team now, so they can plan the optimum time to take delivery of their machinery.”

The chart below illustrates the maximum amounts available by showing four different company financial year ends, and how vital it is to spend the right amount within the right periods in order to maximise tax benefits.

Different financial years that straddle either the tax year or calendar year may result in complicated calculations that could lead to a lesser AIA being granted in that financial year.

Given the lead times of some plant and machinery from order to delivery, this also needs to be carefully factored in to buying plans.

JCB Finance have been providing asset finance and supporting business growth in the construction, agriculture and industrial sectors since 1970, so understand the challenges these customers may face.

Their team can offer fast, flexible finance solutions that help businesses preserve their working capital by spreading the cost in a tax efficient manner. 

Finance options are not restricted to JCB plant and machinery equipment, but are also available for other non-competitive new machinery, cars, commercial vehicles and used plant.

Immigration White Paper shows government is not listening, says FMB

THE Immigration White Paper shows the Government is not listening to the business community as it sets out a post-Brexit immigration system that would devastate the construction industry, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Commenting on the Immigration White Paper, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Government seems hell-bent on ignoring the business community when it comes to its immigration policy, as demonstrated by this disastrous White Paper.

"Despite more than two years of constructive engagement, what has been proposed by Ministers takes on none of our feedback.

"If the Government wants to jeopardise the UK economy for the sake of meeting an arbitrary immigration target, it’s going the right way about it.

“What’s particularly worrying is the government’s obsession with salary thresholds for migrant workers entering the UK.

"The figure of £30,000 was floated in the Migration Advisory Committee report and was met by fierce opposition from almost all sectors.

"It makes no sense to draw meaningless lines in the sand when we should base our immigration policy on what will make our economy strong and productive.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB

(ABOVE) Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB

"The White Paper also states categorically that it will make no allowances for so-called low skilled workers.

"This is wrong on two levels – firstly, the definition of 'low skilled' will cover most construction tradespeople and secondly, genuinely low skilled workers, such as labourers, are essential to the safe and smooth running of any construction site.

"12-month work visas for occupations in short supply during the transition period simply won’t cut it.

"Small and medium-sized construction firms, which make up 99 percent of the industry, do not advertise for roles internationally. Also, from a migrant worker’s perspective, why go to the UK for just 12 months when they can settle in other countries for much longer and put down roots if they wish. If the 12-month work visa idea was supposed to be an olive branch to the business community, it leaves much to be desired.

"The government describes the construction and house building sectors as strategic and central to delivering its own aims.

"However, the plans set out today would make it impossible to meet the Government’s house building targets and the world-class infrastructure projects we have in the pipeline will be nothing but a pipedream."

The technology helping to prevent construction industry accidents

THE CONSTRUCTION industry continues to thrive throughout the world, with the global market expected to grow in value by 85% to $15.5 trillion (currently valued at £12.2 trillion) by 2030.

Yet while the industry flourishes, one of the biggest issues is that of safety in the workplace, where the number of injuries and fatalities caused by accidents on worksites continues to cause alarm.

In the UK, just over 2.73 million people are employed in construction sector jobs.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, there were 196 fatalities in the construction industry in Great Britain in the five years to 2017. Of these, 10% were struck by workers being struck by a moving vehicle.

Statistics also showed that of the 5,055 non-fatal accidents during 2016/2017, 13% were struck by moving objects.

Research shows that workers in the construction industry are at risk in a number of areas. These include:

  • collisions due to rear, front and side blind spots;
  • collisions due to poor visibility, such as dust, fog, and working at night;
  • site workers being struck by vehicles and mobile machines;
  • ear defenders reducing site workers’ ability to hear clearly approaching vehicles;
  • tonal back-up alarms being ignored by site workers.

In the high-risk construction industry, organisations have a duty to safeguard their workers.

Although many countries are required to comply with their own health and safety standards, organisations are increasingly choosing to invest in enhanced safety systems to protect their workers and keep their reputations intact.

Technology innovations

On construction sites, the need for safety is paramount, particularly as the slightest mistake can have devastating consequences.

The latest innovations in technology mean many of these accidents can be prevented.

A range of safety systems are available to assist construction companies in keeping their staff safe.

On-board camera systems can help to alert drivers to possible dangers, while reversing and warning alarms alert workers when a vehicle is manoeuvring near them.

Brigade’s reversing alarms harness high-spec broadband sound frequency, emitting a wide range of white sound frequencies.

These enable workers to locate the direction of the sounds instantly. Rather than the old style ‘beep beep’, Brigade’s bbs-tek® White Sound® reversing alarms create a ‘ssh-ssh’ sound, which dissipates quickly.

This means the alarm can only be heard in the danger zone, so there is more chance of alarm-weary workers paying attention.

The broadband frequency also gives workers wearing ear protection devices a better chance of hearing the alarm.

Sensing risk

Blind spots on large worksite vehicles and machinery can be particularly deadly. The front, rear and nearside are problematic areas of vehicles, particularly those with elevated driver positions.

Harsh construction site terrains, where thick dust and mud often decrease visibility even more, further increase the risk of accidents. 

Radar systems, such as Brigade’s latest Backsense® Radar sensor system (BS-8000), alert the operator to potential risks.

Backsense® works by emitting a continuous-wave radar that is faster than pulsed-radar products.

Some detection systems can produce false alerts, which can lead to frustration for the driver, resulting in genuine alerts being disregarded.

Continuous-wave radar protects against false alerts, thanks to the controlled beam pattern, which can be programmed, allowing organisations to fix a bespoke detection area specifically suited to their needs. 

When a moving or stationary object is detected, the driver is given an in-cab visual display plus an audible warning.

Another advantage installing a radar system is that, unlike cameras, they will continue to function at optimum levels even in the harshest of conditions, such as rain, fog and snow.

As technology moves forward, systems are being developed to address the need for multiple sensors which have the ability to cover large, complex blind spot areas.

Backsense® Network Radar allows organisations to connect and link up to eight sensors.

This system provides object detection in Controller Area Network (CAN) gateway to display data on control panels on the vehicle and possible trigger outputs.

While it may not be possible to eliminate every element of risk when manoeuvring heavy plant and machinery, radar obstacle detection is a step forward in protecting the lives of vehicle operators and those who work around them.

Great British Bake Off finalist uses Triton tools to create cakes

THE Great British Bake Off finalist Richard Burr has returned to the kitchen for his latest culinary creation, but ditched the traditional utensils in favour of power tools.

To mark the return of the popular television programme, North London-based Richard made gingerbread in the shape of tools and a tool box, but left his whisk and spatula in the cupboard.

Instead, the builder-by-trade used items more associated with his day job – such as a drill and an orbital sander - from power tools brand Triton Tools to complete the masterpiece, combining two of his main passions in life.

Richard said: “It has been four years since I was in The Great British Bake Off and the return of the new series has certainly got my baking juices flowing again.

“I’m always looking for fresh challenges and utilising tools I would normally save for my day job as a builder certainly gave me plenty of food for thought.

“I have to admit, it all turned out very well.”

Amongst the Triton Tools Richard used to make the biscuit-based delight were an orbital sander, clamps, mini planer and drill driver.

Richard said: “Away from my family, the two things which I spend most time doing is baking and carrying out building jobs so it was brilliant to bring those two elements together like this.

“The tools showed fantastic versatility to stand up to the rigours of making a cake - it’s amazing how smooth the edges get when you use an orbital sander on them!

“If I’d been able to use the tools in the Bake Off tent, it might have been the difference between me getting to the final and actually winning the competition.”

Claire Sweet, global brand manager for Triton Tools, said: “It was fantastic to work with Richard and see his talents as a baker and builder combine.

“Our tools are renowned for their precision and what better way to put them to the test than by making the gingerbread. Given Richard’s feedback, they seemed to pass with flying colours!”

A video of Richard making the cake can be found here:

How to protect your construction business

IN ANY business, the protection of your assets is as important as achieving adequate profits, drumming up trade and increasing your capabilities.

It is no different in construction, where projects require good planning, foresight and cash flow measures in order to be completed on schedule. This article takes a sweeping overview of a construction business and points out the weak spots you might want to consider bolstering to avoid disastrous disruption to your business.

By protecting your business against such disasters, you’ll be better able to plan a more lucrative business strategy for the future.


Getting yourself and your employees insured is an absolute number one objective for your business, and you’ll no doubt already have your tools, vehicle and business insurance set up.

The catch here is the small print in insurance documents; there’s nothing worse than finding yourself out of pocket after a disaster at work because you failed to comply with the intricacies of an insurance contract.

Be prepared to read through these and never fail to abide by the rules. A stolen power tool or two can be replaced, but if you are violating construction insurance terms, your business might find itself on the rocks.


Stripping it back to the basics, there are two things you absolutely need to do your job: your tools and your vehicle. Both these essential items need to be in good working order at all times.

When they are not, you miss out on trade, anger customers, and create a backlog that can be very difficult and stressful to work through.

Consider getting a wheel nut indicator fitted on your vehicle if it is constantly loaded with heavy tools because by doing so, it’ll avoid wheel damage and loss.

Always keep your tools secure in your vehicle, and have back-ups should they fail on you.


If you are in construction, you know cash flow can sometimes be a major obstacle, especially when you are looking at the bigger jobs and the more long-term contracts.

When money’s low, and you have to pay your mortgage and support your family, it can act to massively shrink your circle of business, causing more money problems.

Short-term loans can be a quick fix to this problem, or else a frank conversation with your bank about overdrafts or loans might be in order. Often in business, a cash injection is just what’s needed to get you up and steaming again.


Whatever scale of construction you work at, contracts are an incredibly important part of the job.

Whether you qualify as self-employed or you run a larger registered business, you’ll have far fewer rights in a court of law if you cannot brandish a well put-together document proving that you are operating within the agreement, or that a client, customer or supplier owe you money.

Do not let yourself be persuaded to enter into business without the trust that contract-signing brings: you never know who might leave you hanging after a job.

These four tips should be of use to those in the construction business who desire a more robust and failsafe strategy moving forwards.


Tips for setting up as a tradesperson

LIFE as a tradesperson grants a good amount of freedom, varied and enjoyable work, and the ability to hone important and sought-after practical skills.

It is truly a job for life, and that is why so many people take on apprenticeships after their time at school, which fast-tracks individuals towards a fulfilling career working a trade.

If you have just emerged from your apprenticeship and are eager to set up your self-employed career as a tradesman, you will find the following tips invaluable to get you off your feet.


You will have accumulated a lot of the gear you need as a tradesperson from your apprenticeship, but you will still need an adequate mode of transport for yourself and your tools if you are to be a mobile businessman ready to leap up in the morning and hit a job.

Take a look at your options where transport is concerned. Vans tend to be extremely expensive; it may instead be worth searching for trailer spares UK to look at cheaper options that mean you will not have to sell your day-to-day vehicle.

A small trailer full of tools is also easier to safely store in a garage away from thieves.

Name or Brand

How you proceed with the set-up of your personal brand, business name and initial publicity drive will be up to you. Plenty of tradespeople find jobs quickly and as such never pay much heed to getting their name out there; they are just a tradesperson who is in demand.

Other times, during sustained lulls, it’s useful to print and post some flyers, put up some posters, or otherwise get advertising on the internet as a registered and reliable tradesperson. Getting noticed is all you will need to get on your feet quickly.

Work Ethic

When you are starting out, you want to impress people enough that they will recommend you to friends. Work hard, efficiently and with the right attitude - with friendliness towards your clients and punctuality and humility, which will see you highly-esteemed.

Hand out business cards after completing all jobs in which your clients are happy, and they will be sure to recommend you on. A good work ethic also means you’ll be working at your very peak, which means you will be maximising those profits.

Think Business

It is not particularly in a tradesperson’s apparent remit to be business-savvy, but that is exactly what you are going to have to be when you set up and go searching for projects.

The best tradespeople seem always to have a 'job to be off to', balancing plenty of jobs at the same time, but that kind of work is derived from creating a base.

Think smart when you are just starting out. You want to have enough work in the future that you need to take on an apprentice yourself. A personal website is a smart move, as it will set you apart from other tradespeople who operate without a site.

Starting out as a tradesperson is an incredibly exciting and independent stage in life, and these tips should help you hit the ground running so that you are able to take an apprentice on yourself for some time.



Scroll to Top