NTU Employer Awards

If anyone ever wonders whether it’s worth doing an apprenticeship, they should talk to Michael Hillson.

Fifty years ago, while working hard learning carpentry skills during his own apprenticeship, Michael Hillson had the vision to realise that he could start a business himself, and MJ Hillson Ltd, a labour-only carpentry sub-contractor, was born. Half a century later, MJ Hillson Ltd is a specialist supply and fix joinery contractor, supporting the UK’s top contractors both in the residential and commercial sectors and a company within a group of specialist construction companies

Michael Hillson has never forgotten the importance of his apprenticeship and as such training is ingrained into the fabric of the company. Over the years, hundreds of carpenters and construction management technicians have been trained ensuring our employees have the skills they need to succeed.

Our apprenticeships have helped to develop people that not only work for us but that have gone on to prominent positions within the construction industry or to become successful business owners themselves. Currently, the managing directors of two businesses within the MJ Hillson group started their careers with carpentry apprenticeships at the company. Other members of staff who also started their apprenticeship with the company have gone on to achieve more than 40 years’ service themselves, training many, many apprentices.

Currently, a quarter of our workforce is apprentices and trainees, unique figures for a company of our size – we acknowledge that this plays a huge part in our continued success.

MJ Hillson forges vital links with schools, colleges, training providers, tutors and parents and believes these relationships are strong because of the honesty and transparency we practise in ensuring the correct delivery of an apprenticeship programme. We provide assistance and time to our partners with CV-writing skills, mock interviews and careers carousels, and have taken part in business entrepreneurial days. We are currently in the process of starting to organise CPD days for college tutors working on our projects.

A structured training plan combined with attendance at college/university helps to ensure the apprentice achieves a qualification as well as necessary experience along their pathway. Regular reviews are carried out (sometimes by directors of the company) to monitor apprentices’ progress and to provide support and encouragement..

Our apprentices also act as advocates for our apprenticeship programme, highlighting the benefits it brings to them as well as the company. Many are in the process of becoming construction ambassadors to help to inspire new entrants into the industry.

M J Hillson is a family business, but for us that means so much more than relatives. We consider all our team members as one family, whether working on site or in the office. Our apprentices are part of the family. It’s that family pride that spurs the company on to new challenges and successes – and to the next 50 years.