RCR inputs to national apprentice report

River Canal Rescue (RCR) continues to be recognised as a leading authority on employing apprentices; the firm was recently asked to contribute to the Investors In People (IIP) report ‘Exploring the characteristics of a quality apprentice employer’ which published in July.

Managing director Stephanie Horton and her team discussed the key characteristics of a high-quality apprenticeship employer, covering recruitment, training, development, support, progression routes and retention, and explained how they give apprentices rewarding and career-building experiences.

Nearly 60% of RCR’s workforce are past or current apprentices and staff retention rates are 90+%.

Some 160 employers, apprentices and training providers were asked to input to the report and leading apprentice employers such as RCR, gave more in-depth interviews. As a result, IIP identified high-quality employers as having the following attributes;

  • An ongoing commitment to training and development
  • A diverse approach towards apprentices – from recruitment to payment policies
  • Consistent and dedicated support
  • Clear progression routes at the start and transparency throughout the process
  • A good and well-established relationship with the training provider so constructive communication and trouble-shooting can take place
  • Motivation to take on apprentices for the company and individual’s growth

IIP hopes to use these ‘markers’ as a springboard to develop an apprentice-focused Investors In People quality mark and to help the Department for Transport’s Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce. The Taskforce is keen to define what quality looks like in the apprenticeship sector – it recently reported ongoing national infrastructure projects will require nearly 27,000 apprentices.

Stephanie comments: “We are a great advocate of apprenticeships – they give staff a depth of business understanding that’s impossible to ‘buy in’ and in return we benefit from commitment and reliability.  Apprenticeships have been and will continue to be at the heart of RCR’s success and I’m delighted the three-year programme we’ve had in place since 2002 is recognised at a national level.”

In 2017, RCR was identified by the National Apprenticeship Service as a Top 100 apprenticeship employer and in 2016, named Medium Employer of the Year at the North West National Apprenticeship Awards.

IIP CEO Paul Devoy concludes “IIP commends the work of organisations like River Canal Rescue for their commitment to delivering a quality apprenticeship scheme. We appreciated their insightful contributions to our own research on what makes a quality apprentice employer.”

To find out more about River Canal Rescue visit or check out their Facebook page. To find out more about Apprenticeship Schemes  visit