Leading hygiene services company reaping the apprenticeship rewards

Leading hygiene services provider phs Group says apprenticeships have helped the company increase colleague engagement and retention, improve productivity, customer service and grow sales.


Based in Caerphilly, the company employs more than 3,000 colleagues nationwide, of which 130 are apprentices. Over the past five years, phs Group has employed 256 apprentices, 47 of whom have been promoted or moved into a new role as part of their career plan.


Phs Group aims to have at least 5% of its workforce on apprenticeship programmes which help develop the career paths from entry to senior management.


Now, phs Group has been shortlisted for the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2024 as a Large Employer of the Year finalist.


Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor is EAL.


The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held at ICC Wales, Newport on March 22, 2024. The awards highlight the outstanding achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.


Apprenticeships from Level 3 to 7, ranging from Business Administration and Customer Service to Management and Data Science, are delivered by ALS Training, along with ACT and Coleg y Cymoedd. Bridgend College also recently awarded phs Group the Employer Partnership Award In 2023.


An Apprenticeship Ambassador Network member, phs Group shares best practice with other employers and has transferred £90,000 of its apprenticeship levy to support apprentices at 15 small and medium sized businesses.


Phs Group recruited Julie Harries as work-based learning lead in 2019 to drive and manage apprenticeships, resulting in significantly improved skills and opportunities across the business coupled with high completion rates.


She believes apprenticeships fit perfectly with in-house learning and development programmes which are available to colleagues.


“Our apprenticeship programme ensures that we have the right knowledge, skills and behaviours. Through the 130 people that we have on apprenticeship programmes, we have elevated colleague expertise within phs Group, which helps us achieve our vision of becoming the partner and employer of choice.


“By developing colleagues, they feel more motivated and engaged. Happy employees impact how we service and provide best outcomes for our customers which is vital for a company that puts people at the heart of their products and services”


Vanessa Hope, ALS Training’s corporate development manager, said: “Having worked with phs Group for several years, we are always impressed by the company’s level of commitment to apprenticeships, and this can be demonstrated by the high achievement rate of their staff.”

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated phs Group and all the other finalists. “Today’s apprentices will be tomorrow’s specialists, and Apprenticeship Awards Cymru allows us to recognise apprentices, work-based learning practitioners, and employers that have gone above and beyond,” he said.

“Their tenacity, passion, and commitment to growing their own careers, the careers of others, and the larger Welsh economy is inspiring. I wish each of the finalists the best of luck at the awards and with their future endeavours.”

Congratulating the finalists, Al Parkes, managing director at EAL, said: “As the specialist awarding organisation and skills partner for the engineering and manufacturing industry, apprenticeships in Wales are especially important to us.

“Apprenticeships play an important role in supporting personal progress through career opportunities and a sense of achievement, while ensuring that employers have the right skills at the right time to keep up with evolving industry needs.

“EAL is committed to encouraging employers to take on apprentices. Marking the achievements of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners at the Apprenticeship Awards Cymru is vital to this.”

For more information about recruiting an apprentice, visit: https://gov.wales/apprenticeships-genius-decision or call 03000 603000.

Picture caption:


Staff from phs Group, Large Employer of the Year finalist.