Fortunately, time in the Royal Engineers gave Rob Cawley insight into civil engineering projects, logistics and the kind of organisational skill set that is currently in huge demand in the construction industry.
“It wasn’t only my first construction industry project,” says Rob, project skills co-ordinator with civil engineering firm, Griffiths. “It was also our first ever project with National Skills Academy for Construction (NSAfC) status.
“We regarded that as a big success in itself, but there was more to it again. It was also the first NSAfC in Mid-Wales and CITB’s first ever for a project under £100 million.”
The work was to construct a 6.5km bypass around Newtown in Powys, while upskilling existing staff, training and recruiting local people, and developing a local supply chain.
A further aim was to promote civil engineering and construction to underrepresented groups. No small order.
Getting to work
Undaunted, Rob quickly set about researching his role. “I used all my contacts to understand what had to be done. I spoke to other project skills co-ordinators, visited other building sites, formed relationships with local businesses, colleges, careers organisations and training providers.
“I closely studied the key performance indicators (KPIs), and put a plan in place to achieve them.
“We quickly developed effective partnerships so that we could get training and recruitment support we needed and offer it in innovative ways.
“Soon we had the apprenticeships, work experience, training courses, careers events and so on up and running.”
But the remote location of the project was challenging. “It was really hard for some of our work placements to get to site because of its rural location and lack of transport links,” Rob says.
Making a success
Even so, they exceeded 13 out of 14 of their KPI targets. “We had more than 50 work placements, supported 20 apprenticeships and created more than 30 new jobs,” Rob says.
“Local businesses supplied about a third of our workforce, and we gave them on-site training to reduce travel expenses and time away.