Students get a taste of life in construction

Case Study 7BALFOUR Beatty has been working with Aberdeen’s Northfield Academy to encourage pupils to consider career options in the construction industry.

Their combined efforts to make a difference to pupils’ lives were showcased to the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP.

Last year Balfour Beatty launched a work experience programme for Northfield Academy students. Eleven pupils spent time on local projects to gain an understanding of potential careers.

At the firm’s Aberdeen office, Mr Russell and the Chairman of Hub North Scotland joined pupils and staff to discover the achievements. Two pupils, Toni Cocker and Liam Davidson, shared their experiences of their time on the programme and explained how it has helped to shape their ambitions.

Michael Russell said, “Employers have a key role to play under Curriculum for Excellence in making learning more exciting and relevant, and ensuring successful outcomes for all pupils. Balfour Beatty and Northfield Academy committing to working together long term for the benefit of pupils, the company and the local community is an excellent example of this partnership working in action.”

Neil Hendry, Northfield Academy Headteacher, said, “Our interaction with the Minister and industry leaders has been thrilling. Engaging with people in senior positions will have helped to boost the confidence of our pupils.”

George Hood, Balfour Beatty Managing Director Northern Scotland, said, “We work at the heart of local communities and are committed to helping them develop. This event has demonstrated the partnership is working for the company, the school and wider community.”

Rail experience boosts pupils’ enthusiasm

Case Study OneA group of Year 10 school pupils left a fortnight’s work experience at Costain’s London rail contracts “inspired” by the staff they had met, said the event’s organiser.

The youngsters came from St Augustine’s CE High School, Kilburn. The school was involved in a Business in the Community Big Conversation event last autumn, at which Chief Executive, Andrew Wyllie, offered work experience sessions to those interested in considering opportunities in the sector.

Eighteen 14 and 15-year-olds took part in the fortnight-long session, said Sustainability and Emerging Talent Manager Indy Lachhar, who added that the packed timetable involved much more than simply job shadowing Costain personnel.

Following induction, a briefing on Costain and our industry, plus sessions educating the pupils on workplace behaviour and interpersonal communication, they were split into two groups for a series of sessions at three contracts over five days.

Indy said: “We rotated them around the various disciplines, such as quantity surveying, civil engineering and planning. During their visit to Crossrail headquarters at Canary Wharf, they were given a project to design a city metro railway line on a fictitious city map and present their reasoning for their design and decisions.

“They then came back to Paddington for classroom-based training. We gave them hints and tips on how to write CVs, while an external consultant gave them help with core employability skills.”

Their final day saw the students giving presentations to a panel of Costain directors on their experiences and what they would take away from the fortnight.

Balfour Beatty becomes Stonewall Diversity Champion

The programme, run by the gay equality charity, helps employers to develop inclusive workplace cultures for Case Study 6their lesbian, gay and bisexual staff in order to ensure that all staff can perform to their full potential. Balfour Beatty joins businesses as diverse as The Royal Navy, National Grid, Network Rail and Ernst & Young, amongst over 650 major employer members of the scheme.

Paul Raby, Chief HR Officer at Balfour Beatty, commented:

“By supporting and developing our lesbian, gay and bisexual staff through the Diversity Champions programme we’re sending out a powerful message both to our existing and potential employees.

“We’re proud to join the programme and look forward to developing our work around sexual orientation.”

Chris Edwards, Client Group Manager at Stonewall, said:

“By publically demonstrating its commitment to sexual orientation equality, Balfour Beatty is sending a powerful signal to lesbian, gay and bisexual people across the UK that it is an inclusive and progressive employer. I’m delighted to be working with Balfour Beatty through our Diversity Champions Programme. By doing so, we are helping to drive positive change across the construction sector.”

Constructing Equality Ltd Delivers Training for Women Managers

On 5th March Constructing Equality Ltd delivered the second in the series of development sessions for WiBSE members focused on Leadership Development of Women in the Construction Industry.Case Study Five

Hosted by WiBSE at ARUP’s St James Place Offices in Manchester, the evening brought together women from organisations across both the building services engineering and broader construction sectors to undertake some personal development and networking aimed at supporting them in transitioning their skills into leadership roles at the right point within their career paths. The March session focused on helping the attendees to focus on how they should be promoting themselves to their advantage within their workplace and key “light-bulb” moments centred around the negative self-speak that women can tend to adopt in the workplace as they strive for perfection and sabotage their own achievements in the face of their counterparts, managers and clients by being their own biggest critics.

The delegates left the session galvanised to be SMART about their achievements, and how and when they should take the opportunity to use their achievements to illustrate their value to their colleagues, managers and clients with a 100% satisfaction rating from delegates for both the content and the improvement in their understanding.

The remaining development sessions, planned over the coming months with Constructing Equality Ltd are planned to continue with the next event scheduled for 30th April 2014 – anyone interested in finding out more, or attending the April session, should contact Laura Dunlop at WiBSE via

LJMU Outreach Team & School of the Built Environment welcome Year 12 students

Case Study FourNearly fifty Year 12 students and their tutors were welcomed to the University recently for a built environment information and careers day. They attended information sessions withLJMU staff and students and were given the opportunity to get ‘hands on’ experience in a variety of activities such as tower building with pasta and testing the strength of building materials. School Director, Professor Mike Riley, said: “Events such as this give us a real opportunity to showcase the exciting opportunities for careers in the built environment to local schools and colleges.

“Those who choose to enter these careers have a real opportunity to have an influence on the sustainable development of our physical and natural environment. Engaging with them before they make final decisions about university applications and career choices allows us to gain an insight into the issues that they see as important as well as allowing us to provide them with enough information to make informed choices about their future. “

font-family: Arial;”>;”>The event was a collaboration between the School of the Built Environment and the LJMU Outreach Team, who promoted the event to their extensive network of contacts in local schools and colleges. The day will be followed up with sessions including – ‘Applying through UCAS and Personal Statements’ and ”Student Finance’. If you would like to work with the LJMU Outreach Team on your own event, email:

Best practice for supporting women in construction roles

ISG approached Constructing Equality Ltd to develop a two-day course to support female managers in develCase Study Threeoping an understanding of how they are perceived by, and relate to, others in the workplace. The programme was designed to look at how they could strengthen their positions and increase their effectiveness as managers, as well as become future leaders in the business.

Initially ISG felt that its female managers were robust enough and comfortable in their positions so was unsure as to how the course would be received. However they were inundated with positive feedback from course attendees and a number of women across the business have since expressed their interest in attending any future courses.

Aims –

To develop an understanding of workplace perception within female managers.

To increase confidence and effectiveness within female managers to aspire to be future leaders in business.

To help individuals recognise and overcome potential barriers so that they can develop and excel as leaders.

Approach –     

Designed specifically to meet the demands of life in construction as a woman, the course covered the essentials of leadership, progression and communication using examples, systems and experiences that enabled participants to apply their understanding to their own personal roles and achieve their ambitions.

Outcome –

ISG acknowledged that helping female managers to understand more about how they relate to their workplace and how their workplace relates to them would increase effectiveness in their roles and their commitment to the organisation; improving motivation, morale and, ultimately, productivity. They also recognised that there was a very strong need and desire for this type of training when they saw the strength of the feedback, as well as the take-up.

Testimonial –

The women who attended the two-day programme were unanimous in their resoundingly positive response to the course and the empowerment they felt following their experiences:

“I think this course was excellent, it really opened my eyes to opportunities as well as potential obstacles. It should be given a wider roll out”

“Made me reflect on my current position and think about my future and how I can get there through behavioural changes and confidence building”

“The whole course was very informative, lots to take away and digest”

“I now understand that my actions may not necessarily be perceived in the way I intend, but I now I have the tools to remedy this”

2nd Generation Partnership: Liverpool Housing Trust

Liverpool Housing Trust has engaged in a project of supply chain and process development with its’ heating installation and maintenance partners over the last 3 years.

The project goes beyond traditional partnering approaches of open-book accounting and relationship management. In fact, it takes advantage of many of the softer issues that partnering supports to make both supply chain and internal partner processes transparent.

The exercise has involved business-process analysis of their SME partners in an effort to identify efficiency and business-process savings.

The key focus of the exercise was to allow a third party consultant to undertake an analysis of the businesses and identify where savings and improvements could be made.

In addition, LHT looked at its’ joint processes with the supply chain and at improving quality through better processes and training and support for its’ supply chain.

Key demonstrator practices are: –

  • Support and consultancy to enable focused development of the supply chain
  • Generating real cost and quality savings for the client and supply chain
  • Improved shared processes to deliver better quality and improved installation and lifecycle costs

Training and support for the supply chain around key quality issues

Engineering apprenticeships attract disadvantaged students

In London last September, 80% of new recruits were from disadvantaged backgrounds and 67% from minority ethnic groups.

Case Study OneThe apprenticeships scheme was initiated by the Technician Apprenticeship Consortium (TAC) in 2010 who later partnered with the Royal Engineering Academy (RAEng) to unlock and access pools of untapped engineering talent such as young women, people from minority ethnic and less advantaged backgrounds.

Philip Greenish, chief executive of the RAEng, said: “The UK needs more skilled engineers. The development and success of these apprenticeships will help meet increasing demand for qualified engineers by widening access to the profession while at the same time contributing to social mobility.

The Royal Engineering Academy has stated that over the past three years, the scheme has grown from eight to more than 400 apprentices, whilst the number of companies participating in the TAC has risen from six to 30. TAC now has a model of good practice which involves a network of further education colleges, employers and professional engineering institutions.

Currently there are two active Advanced Technician Apprenticeships, one in civil engineering and the other in building services engineering.  A third in transport planning engineering is currently in development.

The Academy said this is a formula that works and could be applied to more engineering fields – and beyond.