Apprentices in Woking are proving how integral they are to the delivery and wider success of the Kingsmoor Park project, which recently secured a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the Development of the Year (51+ units, South) category at this year’s LABC Bricks Awards. These dedicated young people are not only demonstrating their potential for further training but are being regionally recognised for their commitment through industry awards as well as being identified for future positions within Kier Living.
Kingsmoor Park in Woking is a unique PFI housing contract worth £78.8m which is being realised through a collaborative partnership between Kier, Thames Valley Housing Association and Woking Borough Council to deliver a single site mixed-tenure development of 373 homes. Under the PFI contract, 224 of the properties will be new social rent homes for the council, with 149 homes available for private sale. The construction of the new homes commenced with enabling works in October 2013, followed by start on site in February 2014 with the first handovers already having occurred in early 2015. Sales demand is high with all units reserved as quickly as they are released.
The project currently has 11 apprentices on site as part of a commitment to deliver a total of 15 apprentices over the duration of the development.
Apprentice Daniel Smith, who is being supported through Level 3 of his apprenticeship, has already been identified by Kier as a potential assistant site manager, illustrating the strength of apprentices at Woking. Daniel was recently awarded the Personal Endeavour Award at this year’s Stemx Awards.
The Stemx Awards celebrate and publicise the huge wealth of STEM skills amongst young people in the region and encourages them to make the most of the many opportunities that exist in South East England.
Daniel’s potential, however, is not in isolation. David Hurford was awarded the Trainee of the Year award at this year’s Kier Living Apprentice Awards and had progressed through his apprenticeship to become a permanent member of the Kier team at Woking, working as a trainee assistant site manager. Devon Salmond is another outstanding apprentice at Kingsmoor Park who has been identified by Kier for future progression into engineering. Devon was recently award the Apprentice of the Year award for the South at the Annual Kier Living Apprentice Awards. This is in addition to another apprentice securing full time work at the end of his training with one of Kier’s subcontractors.
David commented on what it has been like working as an apprentice for Kier, and how he has been supported while he’s progressed;
“I started with Kier back in July 2014 a year into our site at Kingsmoor Park in Woking. Being my first job in the construction industry and having only worked in a supermarket before that, I was nervous to begin with. While I was getting to know the site management team and the trades it was clear that everyone was happy to help and understood that I didn’t know much about the construction industry at that point in time. At first, I looked after the apprentices on site as a team leader as this was our only site in the south. After 6 months the apprentices had settled into a routine, I pushed forward with more site manager roles while still looking after the apprentices on site. For the past year I have been working closely with all site managers on various parts of the project from fix and second fix to finishing and handovers. Each site manager has been happy to teach me what they know and answer any questions I may have. Kier are also putting me through my Higher National Certificate in Construction at East Surrey College, I currently go once a week to further my knowledge of the sector.”
“All in all, Kier have been a fantastic company to work for and have provided me with more than I could have asked for. There is always someone that can help and a friendly atmosphere on site. I feel I have learnt the knowledge and skills that will shape my future as a site manager and possibly more.”
Crucial to the success of the local apprenticeship programme has been partnership working with the CITB and local colleges, including Aldershot College, Guildford College, East Surrey College and Nescot College. These institutions help to complement the training that apprentices receive onsite at Woking with high quality classroom based learning.
Thames Valley Housing Association’s STEP Programme is also helping to prepare local young people for work as well as helping them to secure employment. The STEP Programme is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and works with unemployed 16 – 24 year olds. Support is offered in the form of completing application forms, preparing CVs, interview skills and providing access to apprenticeships and work placements.
Kier Living’s Apprenticeships Manager, Abdul Mozzamdar highlighted the focus on development of apprentices in the region that Kier is currently undertaking;
“Kier is keen to support all its apprentices to reach their full potential. Apprentices form a big part of our workforce development strategy, we are a proud member of the 5% club, with a dedicated focus on getting at least 5% of our workforce on apprenticeships or training within the next five years and nowhere is this commitment to the training and development of apprentices more apparent than at Woking. The network of colleges in the region coupled with the pool of talent we have access to here has meant that we have not only been able to identify candidates for advanced training but provide a longer term future for these apprentices within the industry.”
Kier’s strategy focussing on training and development of young people extends beyond the onsite apprentice programme. Kier is working with a local school to support students in the completion of the CREST Award along with working with the CITB to identify work experience programmes for over 16 year olds and is geared towards attracting the next generation to the industry.