We caught up with Blakedown who are currently upgrading infrastructure at the Natural History Museum, to speak to them about their current project and how funding accessed from the Skills Support for the Workforce programme has helped develop their workforce.
It’s a Thursday morning in September and we arrive on site at the Natural History Museum. Blakedown Developments are currently working on repaving and landscaping to provide a better view for the public with an estimated completion for 2018.
The building is 136 years old, a striking example of Romanesque architecture and possibly one of Britain’s most iconic landmarks. It’s a very intricate and highly-skilled job working with stone at this very famous British institution.
With over 45 years experience Blakedown Environment & Leisure is a multi-awarding-winning landscaping and civil engineering company which operates throughout the UK. Theirs is a team of highly skilled in-house experts reflecting Blakedown’s commitment to training their workforce.
Construction Skills People helped Blakedown train their workers, taking advantage of the Skills Support for the Workforce programme with Serco. We identified the need for their existing workers to be trained on additional categories of plant equipment such as Forward-tipping dumpers and Excavators.
Janine Richards, Blakedown Group HSQE Manager
Upon arrival, we are greeted by Janine Richards, Group HSQE Manager for Blakedown. Janine shows us around the site, talking us through the job and generally marvelling at this incredible building.
We talk about the varied nature of training required for a project of this level and her experience of with Construction Skills People in partnership with Serco.
How did you find out about the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme?
Riyad, our contract at Construction Skills People informed us they had partnered with Serco, which allowed them to access from funding from the European Social Fund to upskills our workforce and we moved from there.
How have you used the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme to benefit your company?
There was a need within the business to upskill existing staff with additional categories of construction plant equipment such as Excavators and Forward-tipping dumpers. By making use of SSW with Construction Skills People as a training provider we were able to fulfil our training needs at no cost to our company.
Did you find there was a lot of paperwork or administrative effort to access the funding?
Not really – as part of the programme Riyad carried out a training needs analysis which identified exactly what our requirements were and produced a roadmap to get us to where we needed to be. Riayd also helped up complete the documentation required.
As a HSQE Manager having used the Skills Support for the Workforce programme, would you recommend other companies use the funding which is available?
Absolutely, it’s a no-brainer. As a Health and Safety manager, it’s important our lads are fully trained and competent for the work they are doing. It’s great that we can get this training to make sure they are able to do the jobs we need them to do. All the training takes place on site which is great and it’s fully-funded, what’s not to like? I would definitely recommend it to anybody.
Dave O’Brien, Site Supervisor
Dave is one of the site workers who has risen through the ranks to a Supervisor, in the past working in the machines but now taking on more responsibility managing and instruction workers and overseeing projects through to completion.
He tells us that’s a big job and being the first thing the public will see as they approach the building it’s essential everything is perfect. We ask Joe what his experience with Construction Skills People and the training he’s received and how it’s helped him develop and progress within the company.
What training did you receive from Construction Skills People?
I was trained on how to drive an operate a 360 Excavator working for Blakedown.
How has it helped you in your job?
All this training has bumped me up really to be a Supervisor. I’m not in the machines now because of the training I received to get to where I am today. Other people have to be on the machines, I have to set out drawings and jobs.
The training itself, what was your experience?
Yes, the training was very good. The trainers that I’ve had were very good. They explained everything, maybe I’m a good learner but I don’t know!
The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) is a new government training programme tailored to the needs of businesses. Serco is delivering this programme with Construction Skills People in areas across the UK. The training is designed to meet skills gaps within local businesses, with a focus on the LEPs’ priority sectors to help boost the local economy in each area.
If you want to find out whether your company can also benefit from funding to help develop your workforce, please call Riyad Ibrahim on 01246 589444.