City Building

City Building triumphs with double win at Glasgow Business Awards

Healthy and Active Workplace Award: (from left) event compere Fred Macauley, Lynn Stocks, Craig Manson and Marianne Clark

Glasgow-based construction company City Building has won two titles at the 21st annual Glasgow Business Awards.

The contractor was crowned winner of the Healthy and Active Workplace Award sponsored by Sustrans Scotland and also took the title for Sustainable Development sponsored by Scottish Water.

The success marks three consecutive award-winning years for the firm, which claimed Green Champion at the 2017 Glasgow Business Awards and picked up Best People Development at the 2016 ceremony.

Sustainable Development Award: (from left) Fred Macauley with Craig Manson, Katja Beheredt, Alan Thomson

Hosted by Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Royal Bank of Scotland, the awards champion the major achievements and innovations of the city’s business community.

Comedian Fred MacAulay compered the event which took place at the Hilton Glasgow, where a total of 16 awards were presented in front of an audience of over 650 guests.

The Evening Times Award for Glasgow’s Favourite Business 2018 went to Dear Green Coffee Roasters, while other notable winners included Premiership Experience, A.C.Whyte & Co Ltd, Clyde Shopping Centre and The Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice.

60 more apprentices provided with tools for success at City Building

The City Building apprentices with Cllr Greg Hepburn

City Building has enhanced its reputation as one of the largest employers of young people in Scotland by offering permanent jobs to 97% of their graduating fourth-year apprentices.

More than 50 joiners, electricians, painters and plumbers have been retained in response to growing demand for City Building’s services within the city. In the first year since the joint venture with Glasgow City Council and Wheatley Group, City Building has enjoyed a notable surge in its workload as private and public clients continue to invest in refurbishment projects throughout the city.

City Building’s newest recruits will be tasked with carrying out vital construction, repair and maintenance and manufacturing services at sites such as Sighthill Community Campus, Glasgow City Chambers, the Wingets homes in Carntyne and Leithland Residential Care Home.

Hoping to one day follow in their steps is the next generation of apprentices who were also welcomed into City Building this week. A total of 60 youngsters have been accepted onto the organisation’s four-year training programme where they will spend time learning essential theory at college as well as gaining practical onsite experience. The new apprentices have been recruited from across the city, supported by Glasgow City Council’s Glasgow Guarantee. Half of the new recruits live in homes managed by GHA, Cube or YourPlace, all part of Wheatley Group. Wheatley’s charitable trust, Wheatley Foundation, provided £125,000 funding towards these apprenticeships.

1st Year apprentice Chloe Ross with Cllr Greg Hepburn

Among the 60 new apprentices is Chloe Ross (17), who was inspired to apply after hearing about the achievements of Lisa Murphy (21) – a rising star within City Building who has twice been awarded the prestigious industry Johnstone Painter of the Year award.

Chloe Ross, City Building apprentice, said: “It’s so difficult to decide what you want to do when you leave school. There are so many options and there’s a lot of pressure to make the right decision. As a young woman, I hadn’t really considered a career in painting and decorating until I read about Lisa’s success with City Building.

“The apprentice programme is definitely one of the best there is. They don’t just teach you how to use the tools, they show the importance of giving back to the community and offer support outside of work, with classes on subjects like how to effectively manage finances.”

The Glasgow-based firm, which has a track record in promoting social inclusion, has also created training opportunities for young people who have supported needs, with 12% of the new apprentice intake having a learning or physical disability.

1st Year apprentice Garath Nzelwa

Chair of City Building (Glasgow), Cllr Greg Hepburn, was at the Queenslie Training Centre to welcome the new students.

He said: “Glasgow is home to so many bright, ambitious and hardworking young people who, given the right support and opportunities, will go on to forge successful careers.

“Finding the best path can be a daunting task for young people leaving school, but thankfully in Glasgow we have the facilities to accommodate various aspirations – whether it’s university, workplace traineeships or craft apprenticeships.

“In an increasingly competitive world, we are seeing more people swap higher education for apprenticeships. City Building’s training programme is one of the best in the country, currently employing 250 across all four years.

“Its ability to offer full time employment to 97% of those graduating is testament to work being carried out by the training staff and is representative of a firm which is going from strength to strength.”

City Building staff royally proud at Queens Award presentation

(from left) Back Row: Paul Thomson, apprentice plumber; Ian Dickson, Lord Dean of the Guild; Lord Provost; Graham Paterson; Deacon Convenor Dr Alistair Dorward and Jonny Donnelly, heating and ventilation engineer
Front Row: Martin McGarvie, machine operator RSBi; Ashley Brodie, electrician; Shareece Wallace, apprentice painter and decorator and Lauren Gallacher, apprentice administrator

More than 200 staff from construction firm City Building attended a civic reception at Glasgow City Chambers as the organisation was presented with the Queens Award for Sustainable Development, the most prestigious business award in the UK.

Dr Graham Paterson, executive director at City Building, collected the award from the Lord Provost of Glasgow, who as Lord-Lieutenant of Glasgow is also the Queen’s official representative in the city.

During her speech, the Lord Provost praised City Building’s unique socially inclusive approach to creating employment opportunities across the city and said that the firm was a credit to Glasgow.

City Building previously won the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development in 2012.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise recognise and celebrate business excellence in the fields of innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity (through social mobility). They are UK’s most prestigious business awards and are regarded as the pinnacle of business achievement.

Established in 2006, City Building has grown to become one of Scotland’s largest construction firms, employing over 2,200 staff and providing a wide range of construction, maintenance and manufacturing services.

The organisation was recognised for its unique social ethos which includes providing sustainable employment for a diverse range of people including those with disabilities and other under-represented groups.

The award also recognised City Building’s youth employment strategy. The Glasgow firm operates Scotland’s largest apprentice programme, with a completion rate of 94% compared to an industry average of 75%. It employs 20% of all female craft apprentices in Scotland.

Chloe Land-Sinclair, a time out administration apprentice who attended the event, said the award would provide a boost for staff.

The 20-year-old added: “Everyone is so supportive at City Building, nobody looks down on you just because you are an apprentice. I am at college now and hoping to develop my career by going into planning.”

Dr Graham Paterson said: “It was an honour to receive the Queens Award from the Lord Provost, Lord-Lieutenant of Glasgow, and even more rewarding that it was in front of so many staff. Our hard-working employees thoroughly deserve the recognition and I am really proud of them for winning this prestigious accolade for a second time.”

The Queens Award will now go on display at the organisation’s Springburn headquarters.

City Building contributes £8.7m to joint venture partners

Dr Graham Paterson

Glasgow construction firm City Building has returned £8.7 million to its partners Glasgow City Council and Wheatley Group which will be reinvested in public services and social housing across the city.

The figures were published as part of the organisation’s annual accounts; its first financial results since its repairs and maintenance service, City Building (Glasgow) entered a 30-year £3.7 billion JV with the local authority and Wheatley to deliver improved services to customers and guarantee thousands of jobs.

Established on 1 April 2017, City Building (Glasgow) now provides repairs, maintenance and investment work to Wheatley’s social landlords in the west of Scotland, as well as carrying out £30m of repairs annually for the council.

City Building (Contracts), which is wholly owned by Glasgow City Council, undertakes work for the council as well as competing with the private sector for commercial contracts, providing construction, repair and maintenance and manufacturing services.

According to City Building’s latest financial results, turnover for City Building (Contracts) increased by 15% in the last financial year, growing to £86.2m for the year ending March 31 2018 compared with £74.9m in the previous financial year.

This enabled City Building (Contracts) to return £4.2m to Glasgow City Council to be invested in public services.

Turnover at City Building (Glasgow) declined to £138m for the year ending March 31 2018 from £219m for the previous financial year following reallocation of work to City Building  (Contracts) LLP side of the business. However, £4.5m was returned to Glasgow City Council and Wheatley Group, representing 3.3% of turnover.

The reallocation of work led to a decrease in underlying profit but when adjusted to take account of this, underlying profit rose to £8.768m – an increase of £1.518m (21%). Underlying profit at City Building (Contracts) increased by £4.1m because of the reallocation of work from City Building (Glasgow).

Dr. Graham Paterson, executive director of City Building, said: “City Building continues to go from strength to strength following its new structure, delivering a strong economic contribution for its partners and helping to support thousands of jobs and create training opportunities for a diverse range of people across the city. Wheatley Group’s customers are also benefiting from the new repairs model implemented following the JV.

“We’re encouraged by the first set of financial results and look forward to developing City Building further to grow the business and deliver improved services for the people of Glasgow.”

Interview: City Building laying the foundations for a more diverse workforce

Dr Graham Paterson

After last month’s publication of a landmark report which outlined the diversity performance at City Building, Kieran Findlay and Darren Robertson visited the company’s Queenslie Training Centre in Glasgow to ask executive director Dr Graham Paterson about what drives its promotion for social inclusion.

City Building was established from the former Building Services Department of Glasgow City Council in October 2006 to operate as a construction and property maintenance business within the public, private and third sectors. Though the main purpose of providing and securing sustainable employment, including for people with disabilities, delivering craft apprenticeships, recognising key priorities of social renewal, sustained employment, employee development and training is at the company’s core.

Now one of Scotland’s largest construction businesses, the firm employs more than 2,200 staff, delivering a wide range of construction and maintenance services across the city and beyond.

According to the study, 49% of City Building’s workforce comes from postcodes contained within the top three areas of the Social Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) – a triennial ranking of geographical areas in Scotland based on their relative level of deprivation, using measures such as health, crime and employment.

Almost a quarter of staff (24%) are from the most impoverished postcodes which are ranked as SIMD 1 by the index.

Dr Graham Paterson, executive director of City Building, outlined the firm’s core mission and explained some of the steps it has taken to help achieve it.

He said: “I think it’s part of our ethos in terms of our social values to give something back into the communities which we serve, so that’s fundamental to us. For us it’s putting something into the community as well, it’s targeting these areas to put some employment and value back into the communities.

“The apprenticeship programme is earmarked for school leaver within Glasgow through the Glasgow Guarantee scheme and we look at the various postcodes throughout the city. A high proportion of future apprentices that are applying come from areas that suffer from deprivation.

“There’s a lot of social deprivation within Glasgow but there’s a lot of improvement as well. A lot of investment has been made in the city over many years but the main thing is about jobs and the creation of jobs. Our joint venture with the Wheatley Group allows 2,000 apprenticeships to be created over the next thirty years and a lot of them will come from areas within the city that have social deprivation. If we can change some of that and help that’s very important.”

“Even when I was an apprentice, these values have always been there.”

Expanding on City Building’s approach in targeting the city’s schools, he said: “What our apprentices will do is go around those schools and talk about their experiences of being an apprentice and how they feel about working in the construction industry to try to encourage young people within schools to pick the construction industry as a career path.

“From that we offer talent taster sessions from which they’ll get an idea of what it actually means to work in the construction trade. They may then decide that construction is not for them but the programme has been very successful and generates a lot of interest within the trade.

“We’ve got a huge skill shortage within the industry, so we’ve been trying to encourage as many people as we can.”

Indeed Scotland’s construction skills shortage was highlighted in a report published by CITB Scotland just this month which estimated the overall demand for workers in the sector to be 247,300 in 2018, representing a shortfall of nearly 6,400 workers on current employment.

Dr Paterson describes the shortage as a “huge problem” and signed City Building up to the Glasgow Guarantee programme to encourage people to enter an apprenticeship. A legacy of the Commonwealth Games, the £50 million Glasgow Guarantee programme offers a commitment that all sectors in the city will work together to ensure that young people are assisted into employment and training. The Guarantee pledges to assist 1,000 Glaswegian residents into apprenticeships or employment per annum.

As a result, everyone who applies for an apprenticeship at City Building through the Glasgow Guarantee initiative gets the chance to interview and is guaranteed an attempt at the numeracy, literacy and practical stages of the process.

While Dr Paterson concedes that not everyone that applies can stay on to gain their apprenticeship, the company still produces around 60-70 apprentices every year. A number he describes as “significant” when compared to apprenticeships across Scotland and the UK construction industry market. City Building is Scotland’s biggest employer of apprentices with over 250 currently directly employed. Its apprentices achieve a completion rate of 94% compared with an industry average of 75%.

“People are receiving training for a career and are achieving a passport for the rest of their days in the construction industry.”

As a former apprentice himself, Dr Paterson appreciates how invaluable this commitment is to the city of Glasgow and its people. It’s also important for City Building and its staff to reflect the areas it operates in. Dr Paterson highlighted the role of Lesley Quinn, City Building’s head of client management and communications, under whose stewardship the firm put 141,000 hours into community projects in 2016 alone.

“For me that’s what City Building is about,” he added. “It’s about employment training, it’s about adding real value. I think we’re pretty unique in that sense. Yes we’re a large construction business, we do make a financial return and I think we’re efficient and effective in what we do and we are quite diverse in a lot of things we do. But we are pretty unique in terms of the social values and ethos and it is about putting work back into the community, it’s about apprenticeships promises, it’s about RSBI, it’s about progression within our organisation as well and giving people real opportunities.

“That’s always been our values even when I was an apprentice, these values have always been there and it’s always been a real driver for us.”

City Building’s diversity report found that 9% of its apprentices are female, compared with 2% of Modern Apprentice starts in the Scottish construction sector last year, while 99% of all apprentices are from Glasgow, with 38% coming from the most deprived areas in Scotland. With City Building employees earning an average of £27,805, compared with the average Scottish salary of £22,918, their salaries are helping to reduce income poverty in these areas.

Dr Paterson believes there are other benefits that can be harnessed by having a diverse workforce.

“I think that there’s a lot of knowledge sharing and different views being expressed across the board. A diverse workforce is also much more open workforce, for example, a female apprentice can be absolutely fantastic and bring a lot of skills to the table,” he said.

“Also there was a Women into Construction programme in which you had single mothers taking children to nursery and having to do an apprenticeship over two and a half years. That’s very challenging for them and to me it demonstrated the different type of challenges that individuals within a diverse workforce can face.”

“We’re seeing a lot of people coming through the apprenticeship programme to more supervisory, managerial roles.”

Dr Paterson added: “Within RSBi there is a whole range of people with different types of disabilities and every single day they come in and deliver a fantastic job for City Building and the city. People can see that and learn from that as well and learn from each other. So I think the more diverse the workforce is, the more knowledge you can bring in and more views and values you acquire and all that is very important.

“Of course there are the immediate benefits for the people themselves. It can benefit their self-esteem to get a job if you’re coming from one of the more deprived areas of the city. Their self-esteem can be very important, giving people the responsibility of having a job can reverberate around their daily lives and they can put something back into the economy and the city and it can make those people feel better about themselves. I think when people get a job it makes a huge difference.

“Even just when you consider our apprenticeship programme and its 94% pass rate. I think that alone tells you that people are really keen to get on and we’re seeing a lot of people coming through the apprenticeship programme from a trade background to more supervisory, managerial roles and then to senior roles and that’s fantastic for us to see. People are receiving training for a career and are achieving a passport for the rest of their days in the construction industry.”

While City Building’s efforts to attract young people from the most impoverished postcodes can no doubt be rewarding, there is no doubt that challenges can exist in doing so. But the company has its methods for tackling those issues too.

“For our training team, tradespeople and managers within the various working areas it’s about mentoring people throughout the programme, and while each may have their own challenges and difficulties, it’s how you mentor them through it and I think that’s demonstrated by the high pass out rate,” Dr Paterson explained.

“That includes a lot of work and time collectively from everyone including the individuals themselves. You have to make sure that if there is an issue or a problem, you got to highlight it at a very early stage and you’ve got good backing from the trade unions to make sure you can support them as much as you can through the programme. It doesn’t matter if they are from a deprived area or not, everyone has their individual challenges and it’s just a matter of addressing any issues that arise.

“We’ve got a lot of expertise at City Building as many of our training staff came through the ranks of being an apprentice through the trades themselves so they understand the dynamics of a young person and having individual needs.

“We always say on the parents’ night ‘We will get you through the apprenticeship, just turn up at work, be on time, be respectful to the people who are showing you what to do and listen to the managers and the training staff and we will get you through the apprenticeship programme’. We also do a six-week induction programme before the young people even pick up a tool for their trade which covers healthy living and a raft of things about the wrap around services we’ll do for the apprentices.”

One of the main reasons behind City Building publishing the diversity report was to provide a benchmark against which the organisation’s future performance can be measured.

The research showed that overall City Building’s workforce ethnic diversity is below the UK average at 2% compared with 6% for the wider industry, but according to the analysis progress is being made amongst younger employees with 4% of apprentices coming from an ethnic minority background compared with 2% of apprentices across Scotland.

The first of its kind for the construction industry in Scotland, the study followed a report published by the Fraser of Allander Institute which highlighted the economic and social impact City Building has in Glasgow, in Scotland and the industry as a whole.

For Dr Paterson, it was an opportunity for City Building to gain an independent insight into how inclusive and diverse the company truly is.

He said: “Following the Fraser of Allander study we said OK we know we do apprenticeships, we have RSBi, we have the largest number of female craft apprentices in Scotland, we have a lot of female trade apprentices, we’ve got a whole lot of things to be proud of but let’s have a deeper insight so we know exactly what we are particularly good at and where we need to make improvements. I think this report allows us to take a look at that from a business perspective. It’s also out there for other construction companies and other industries to benchmark and build upon.”

Using the evidence-based report’s analysis, Dr Paterson looks ahead to the short and long term priorities for City Building.

He said: “I think what the report has demonstrated is that we are in a quite strong position in the industry. It’s been a very positive report though there are certain areas we need to look at, for example, attracting more people into construction sites for the BME communities since at the moment only 4% of apprentices come from that background. I also think we can do a lot more than we do now in terms of attracting female craft apprentices and into the industry as a whole. I think we’ve got great role models, for example, Lisa Murphy who has won lots of awards and is absolutely incredible and we’ve got Tracey as well who is now running one of our sites so you have a lot of good examples. But we’ll use that report to improve that further.”

In April 2017 City Building entered into a £3.7 billion joint venture (JV) alongside Wheatley Group and Glasgow City Council with a pledge to provide a modern, localised and even more efficient repairs and maintenance service to thousands of affordable housing tenants.

The JV allows the business to set out a plan to know what resources and apprentices are required over the next five years.

“It’s a fantastic situation to be in where you actually look at it from a short-term perspective and also know what’s going to happen in three, four or five years into the future,” said Dr Paterson. “For City Building Contracts, which operates in schools and building sites, we can see its programmes and find out what types of work specialists are required, what we are currently sub-contracting out and look at what we can internalise and build up businesses.

“The other side is overlaying that with RSBi which has more certainty going forward as well because, while a lot of work is tendered externally, 60% of it is internally via the Wheatley Group and Glasgow City Council. Overall it allows us to plan our workforce plan much more effectively.”

City Building discloses diversity performance in landmark report

(front from left) Jane Gotts, director, GenAnalytics; Alan Burns, depute director, City Building; Cllr Susan Aitken, Glasgow City Council leader and Cllr Greg Hepburn, chair of City Building join City Building apprentices

A landmark report produced to assist City Building’s diversity drive has found that almost half of its employees come from geographical areas identified as being the three most deprived in Scotland.

According to the study, which the first of its kind for the construction industry in Scotland, 49% of the construction firm’s workforce comes from postcodes contained within the top three areas of the Social Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD). Almost a quarter of staff – 24% – are from the most impoverished postcodes which are ranked as SIMD 1 by the index.

Reporting every three years, SIMD ranks geographical areas in Scotland based on their relative level of deprivation, using measures such as health, crime and employment.

With City Building employees earning an average of £27,805, their salaries are helping to reduce income poverty in these areas.

Reflecting the traditional gender disparity in the construction sector, the report found that 10% of City Building’s workforce are women, which is in line with the wider industry figure of 11%.

However, the analysis also found that the Glasgow construction firm employs 16 times more females (32%) in craft trade roles than the industry average (2%) while its senior management team is 50% female. The mean gender pay gap is 3.6% compared with a Scottish average of 16%.

Second year joiner Kayleigh Finnigan and Cllr Susan Aitken

The report, conducted by Glasgow researchers GenAnalytics, examined City Building’s workforce diversity to provide a benchmark against which the organisation’s future performance can be measured. The construction firm, which was founded in 2006, is underpinned by a unique social ethos which aims to create training and job opportunities for a wide range of people including minority and other under-represented groups.

Amongst the key findings of the report are:

  • Over half – 56% – of employees have been working at City Building for more than 10 years
  • The average salary at City Building is £27,805 compared with the average Scottish salary of £22,918.
  • Apprentices account for 13% of the total workforce
  • Nine% of City Building’s apprentices are female compared with 2% of Modern Apprentice starts in the Scottish construction sector last year
  • Ninety-nine% of all apprentices are from Glasgow with 38% coming from the most deprived areas in Scotland.

The research showed that overall City Building’s workforce ethnic diversity is below the UK average at 2% compared with 6% for the wider industry, but according to the analysis progress is being made amongst younger employees with 4% of apprentices coming from an ethnic minority background compared with 2% of apprentices across Scotland.

Masrour Kareen, a third year joiner, with Cllr Susan Aitken

Jane Gotts, director of GenAnalytics, said: “This is an insightful and significant piece of research undertaken by City Building. The organisation should rightly be applauded for seeking to analyse and further understand its performance across a range of diversity measures.

“This research enables City Building to establish baselines to measure progress moving forward and build on the many positive findings from their existing efforts to support a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Launching the report, Cllr Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Improving diversity is key to achieving greater equality and fairness. It is also crucial to the success of Glasgow’s businesses, economy and society as we seek to deliver innovation and growth.

“This new report from GenAnalytics shows how City Building is leading the way when it comes to supporting and improving greater diversity and equality. Its socially inclusive approach is creating a bright future for a wide range of people, including young men and women from some of our most deprived communities, and is supporting the city’s ambitions to thrive and grow.

“I hope it inspires other businesses to embrace diversity and help deliver access and opportunity for all.”

City Building celebrates Glasgow’s young tradespeople

The next generation of Glasgow’s construction force have been recognised by their employer City Building at the firm’s annual Apprentice Awards.

More than 80 young men and women were under the spotlight after being shortlisted for achievements in roles such as electrical, joinery, painting and decorating, gas engineering and administration.

Held in the City Chambers on 29 May, Glasgow’s young tradespeople were honoured by senior management teams at City Building, as well as Board members, friends and family members.

One of the night’s biggest successes was Lisa Murphy (21) who was crowned City Building Apprentice of The Year. A two-time winner of the prestigious industry award Johnstone’s Young Painter of the Year, she is a rising star of her profession.

Now in the final year of her apprenticeship, Lisa will be taking on a full-time role at City Building.

She said: “There are so many talented young people working within the organisation, which makes the title of Apprentice of the Year even more special. I’ve had an incredible journey over the last four years, and my apprenticeship with City Building has opened the door to so many opportunities.”

In addition to technical skills, many apprentices were praised for their compassion and kind-heartedness. While working in the home of a 91-year old tenant, third-year electrical apprentice Craig Sideserf went above and beyond to ensure the woman was comfortable.

While she was initially apprehensive about having people in her house, Craig immediately made her feel relaxed, taking time to fix her CD player and even getting up to dance with her.

Derek Main, City Building supervisor, said: “I was blown away watching this 19-year-old calm the tenant. Not only did he treat her with respect, he brought delight to her day and I will never forget how her face lit up.”

At the event, City Building also announced nominations for its first ever Peer Awards – a new category that allows apprentices to nominate their fellow colleagues. A total of six Peer Awards were handed out to Paul Thomson (1st year plumber), Chloe Sinclair (2nd year administrator apprentice), Chloe McPhail (2nd year administrator apprentice), Shareece Wallace (2nd year painter and decorator), Amy Doyle (4th year painter and decorator) and Patrick Quinn (4th year electrician).

City Building currently trains more than 320 individuals across various construction trades. Since 2006 the firm has provided 1,102 apprenticeships, with 70% going on to retain full time employment at City Building.

Dr. Graham Paterson, executive director, said: “As Scotland’s largest employer of apprentices, we have a duty to ensure those coming through our training programme are given the right tools to succeed.

“City Building has such a strong calibre of young people working across the company, and the awards ceremony allows us to recognise all the great work being carried out.

“As a company, our success is rooted in its people, and with so many hardworking, talented and good-hearted youngsters within the organisation, the future certainly looks bright for City Building.”

City Building sees double after winning second Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development

(from left) Apprentices Cameron Moir, Pheobe Ali, Dylan Trewavasm, Linzi Wylie & Martin McGarvey

City Building is celebrating after winning the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development for a second time.

The Glasgow construction firm’s successful bid was announced on Saturday 21 April, which is designated as the Queen’s Official Birthday. It previously won the Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development in 2012.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise recognise and celebrate business excellence in the fields of innovation, international trade, sustainable development and promoting opportunity (through social mobility). They are UK’s most prestigious business awards and are regarded as the pinnacle of business achievement.

City Building apprentice Andrew Weir at work on Pollok House

Established in 2006, City Building has grown to become one of Scotland’s largest construction firms, employing over 2,200 staff and providing a wide range of construction, maintenance and manufacturing services.

The organisation was recognised for its unique social ethos which includes providing sustainable employment for a diverse range of people including those with disabilities and other under-represented groups.

The company’s socially responsible approach also underpins its business operations, ranging from its procurement processes, which aim to support local or sustainable organisations, to its waste management. The business has reduced its waste by 10% over the past five years. Of the remaining waste, 93% is re-used or recycled and further methods to divert waste from landfill are being developed. Meanwhile, the firm has cut its electricity and water consumption by 18% and 15% respectively since 2012.

Councillor Greg Hepburn, chair of City Building (Contracts), said: “It is a huge honour to receive our second Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development. As well as being a major boost for our workforce, it is also fantastic for our customers, our suppliers and the communities in which we work and serve.

“This award shows that we are leading the way in the construction industry and will put the company in a strong position to develop and grow.”

City Building’s youth employment strategy was also crucial to its success. The Glasgow firm operates Scotland’s largest apprentice programme, with a completion rate of 94% compared to an industry average of 75%. It employs 20% of all female craft apprentices in Scotland.

Gordon Sloan, chair of City Building (Glasgow), added: “By putting sustainability at the heart of its operations, City Building is helping to deliver stronger and safer communities. Its unique approach is also creating employment opportunities that will enable Glasgow to thrive.”

City Building constructs bright future for women

Siobhan Logue at the inaugural Herald Diversity Conference in May last year

With City Building making great strides in attracting women into the industry and helping them to progress, SCN catches up with four of its brightest employees who are each taking their opportunities to blaze their own trail in the sector.

Historically, craft trades have been male-dominated but Glasgow construction firm City Building has made strong progress in attracting more women as part of plans to improve diversity across the business.

The company employs 20% of all female craft apprentices in Scotland and 55% of its senior management are women.

Among the success stories is contracts manager Natalie McPherson, 34, who joined City Building over 16 years ago as an apprentice painter and decorator. Natalie, who now manages multiple projects on behalf of client Glasgow City Council, entered the industry after undertaking a six-week City Building ‘taster’ course at school.

Natalie McPherson

Her potential was recognised during the course and she was encouraged to apply for an apprenticeship. “I loved painting and decorating,” she said. “I had always been hands on, so construction was the ideal job for me.”

After completing her apprenticeship Natalie quickly moved into management, becoming an operations manager in charge of high profile projects including the £2.5 million refurbishment of Lorne Street Primary School in Govan, a Category B listed building. “It was great because it involved liaising with Historic Scotland and working closely with an architect,” Natalie said.

Siobhan Logue

Also making her mark in management at City Building is Siobhan Logue, 26. Site manager Siobhan started out as an apprentice plumber in September 2008. “I’m not going to lie,” she said, “the reason I chose to go into plumbing was that it was the highest paid trade.”

Siobhan joined City Building in September 2008 after completing a six-month National Certificate course as a school leaver. After attaining tradesperson status four years later she was earning a good salary but took a pay cut to become a trainee manager. “I wanted to work my way up and I knew I had the experience to build good relationships and make them work,” she said.

Now managing the £2m refurbishment of Cuthbertson Street Primary School she is relishing the challenges of being a manager. “It can be difficult as there are 400 pupils at Cuthbertson Street and we have to work round that, but I’ve got a great team. I do the office work, which is all the planning and management, and the guys on the job respect that.”

Phoebe Ali

Second year apprentice Phoebe Ali, 18, also chose the plumbing route. Currently working in the gas section of City Building, she became interested in plumbing after receiving support from a female technical studies teacher to apply for an apprenticeship through the Glasgow Guarantee scheme. The £50m programme is a legacy of the Commonwealth Games and assists young people into employment or training.

Phoebe said: “I knew from the age of 14 that I wanted to work in the construction industry. My uncle in England had his own construction firm and I can remember picking up his tools and playing with them when I was little. It also offered secure employment without going to university, which I didn’t want to do.”

The teenager, who was last year named Glasgow Guarantee Apprentice of the Year, is currently installing boilers in housing association properties and was previously part of a team fitting new kitchens and bathrooms.

She also regularly attends to school events to promote the construction industry to young women – including a session at her own alma mater, Rosshall Academy.

“Girls are put off by not having experience, and working with so many guys can be a bit intimidating but it is mind over matter,” she said. “If you don’t want to be behind a desk, it is a great career option.”

Lisa Murphy

Fourth year apprentice painter and decorator Lisa Murphy is another City Building award-winner. As well as being named Trades House Apprentice of the Year in 2015 she won the Scottish heat of the UK-wide Johnstone’s Young Painter of the Year in 2016 before going on to take first place nationally in 2017.

Lisa, 21, was inspired to take up painting and decorating after completing an interior design project as part of her Higher Art course. She also says her late grandfather was an influence

“I didn’t want to go down the university route as I preferred working with my hands. Having a grandfather, who was a painter and decorator, probably influenced me too. He helped me a lot in the first year of my apprenticeship.”

Lisa Murphy

The project Lisa enjoyed most was helping to build the set of the Hello My Name is Paul Smith exhibition in 2016 at The Lighthouse in Glasgow. “It was really detailed work – not like painting a house,” she explained.

“I love my job but now that I’ve been on building sites, I see my future as being in construction management. I’d like to do a Higher National Certificate and move up through the company doing stuff that I enjoy.”

Natalie added: “Sometimes as a woman on the job you need to prove yourself, but when the guys see you can do the job you gain their respect.  I’d say to any other women considering construction to give it a try. I definitely wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.

City Building celebrates golden year with multiple awards

Young Decorator of the Year Lisa Murphy at work

Glasgow-based City Building is ending the year on a high following a flurry of awards recognising the construction firm’s unique approach to corporate responsibility and diversity.

The company gained a total of seven accolades throughout 2017, including Diversity Star Performer and Recruitment of Talents and Youth at The Herald’s Diversity Awards, HR NETWORK’s Corporate Responsibility of the Year and Best Employer of the Year, and Glasgow’s Fairest Employer by the Glasgow Guarantee.

After coming to the rescue of endangered water voles living on a site in Easterhouse, and constructing roof-top habitats for the local swift population in Partick, City Building was also celebrated for its environmental work, walking away with the Green Champion Award at the Glasgow Business Awards.

City Building employees picked up a further four awards for individual abilities, including the UK’s Young Decorator of the Year which was won this month by apprentice Lisa Murphy at Johnstone’s Painter of the Year of Awards.

With its trophy cabinet busier than ever, the year marks one of the most successful for City Building.

Employing 20% of all female craft apprenticeships in Scotland and having women in 37% of all senior management roles, City Building is one of the country’s most diverse organisations.

Through its manufacturing division, Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBi) it also supports jobs for more than 120 people with disabilities, including those with learning disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, as well as creating employment opportunities for army veterans at its windows factory.

Outside of the workplace, City Building has continued to positively engage with Glasgow communities, raising more than £14,000 for local organisations throughout the year. Apprentices have also been lending a helping hand to local groups. Projects carried out by apprentices include redecorating the Glasgow Marie Curie Hospice free of charge, creating learning spaces in local schools and volunteering at foodbanks and Glasgow Life libraries, where they teach children to read.

Dr Graham Paterson, executive director at City Building, said: “This past year has been monumental for City Building, with our achievements including the launch of our new venture with Glasgow City Council and Wheatley Group and a strong set of financial results which saw us return more than £9m to Glasgow City Council.

“These successes are testament to the core values which drive City Building forward, as well as the outstanding talent and hard work of our many employees.

“Securing employment opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds, encouraging our staff to take a role in protecting the environment and positively impacting the communities of Glasgow are central objectives which support our commercial strategies and it is fantastic to be recognised for these attributes.

“I am extremely proud of the direction the firm is taking and hopefully 2018 will yield further successes.”

In addition to winning a total of 11 awards at a company and individual levels, City Building was deemed a finalist in a further nine categories.