Civil engineering firm BAM Nuttall had to find a way to replenish a dwindling talent pipeline. Step forward Susan Fletcher and the National Skills Academy for Construction.
Susan Fletcher had been in banking for 26 years before she decided to make the leap into construction. When she became project skills co-ordinator on a major civil engineering job with BAM Nuttall, it was in at the deep end.
“I developed a programme of one-day training events for subcontractor supervisors, leaders and managers. The courses covered everything from stress management to employment law to health and safety. Promoting best practice at the top helps it filter down to the wider workforce.”
Links with the community
“Establishing a good link to Bradford College and local schools was crucial. We held presentations and interactive sessions, and encouraged work experience placements on site. The great feedback we received showed we had promoted civil engineering to a diverse community.
“We also had general operative apprenticeships, the lifeblood of our workforce, and apprentice technical engineers. Two of which were female engineers. It’s great to see all of them flourishing now, making the most of the opportunity.”
“At the end of the two years, we’d met or exceeded all of the targets. Not only did the project finish on time, but we created a lasting legacy in the community.
“We built capacity and capability and produced measurable benefits for the local economy, recognised in our ‘Highly Commended’ award from Highways England in Promoting Diversity and Inclusion.
“We’re better engaged with our subcontractors and SME partners now,” Susan reflects. “Many local people involved either found jobs or were inspired to follow careers in construction – and the NSAfC project is thought to have contributed more than £550,000 to the sector and the community.”
“Some people were sceptical about what we were doing at the start. They may have thought it a bit ‘soft and fluffy’, but now they see its true value. We’ve sown the seeds of what’s becoming the norm.
“Following our success with this, we’re hoping to do two more NSAfC smart motorway projects in Manchester and Southampton. It’s really making the difference.”