City Building

Blog: The importance of apprenticeships

Gavin Hay City Building

Gavin Hay

Gavin Hay, training manager at City Building and chair of the Scottish Building Apprenticeship Council, says Scottish Apprenticeship Week (29 February – 4 March) is a timely reminder for us to look more closely at the important role young people play in securing the future of our industry and the next generation of talent.

Back in 2008, Glasgow became the first city in Scotland to offer every school leaver the opportunity to learn a trade, a commitment in which City Building had an important role to play.

At the heart of this was the pressing need to address the country’s construction skills shortage while ensuring that Glasgow was ready to meet the challenge of preparing the city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Eight years and more than 1,000 craft apprenticeships later and we’re seeing the benefits of our decision to invest in the workforce of the future.

Quality apprenticeships can help people to progress and succeed while for businesses like ours, they equip us with a skilled workforce able to compete in an increasingly demanding marketplace.

There are countless examples of men and women at City Building who joined us as apprentices and have gone on to have very successful careers in the industry – our executive director, Graham Paterson, followed exactly that path, is an example of what can be achieved through hard work.

The ethos of nurturing and supporting our people is at the heart of our business, and helps explain why we have one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes in the UK, with a 92 per cent completion rate compared with an industry average of 74 per cent.

As we look to the future we must look at the opportunities continued investment in the workforce will bring for our business and for our industry.

In order to meet the challenges that will come along, it’s important that we continue to attract young, talented individuals to our industry while at the same time improving our gender balance, to ensure that we can continue to deliver major construction projects quickly and efficiently. It is important that more investment, in line with the sectors’ Skills Investment Plan (SIP) published for the construction sector last year, is made to develop the younger generation and combat skills shortages in our trade.

There have been reports for some time of a skills gap in the construction industry where talents like bricklaying, steel-fixing and concreting are in short supply.

One way of addressing this loss of skills within the industry is to encourage more young people to consider an apprenticeship as a career route as well as by encouraging more businesses to see the value in offering these types of development opportunities.

Apprenticeships are crucial to business growth. They provide a continued pipeline of talent that will secure our industry’s future, inject new ideas and enthusiasm and give us all the impetus to look ahead with confidence.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week is a reminder to organisations of the important role that apprenticeships play in securing the future of our industry and the increased need for a more strategic approach to nurture and grow talent within the industry.

Glasgow City Council agrees £2.7bn repairs JV with Wheatley Group

City BuildingWheatley Group has today confirmed it will progress plans to deliver its repairs and maintenance service through a new joint venture (JV) with Glasgow City Council.

Heads of terms have been agreed that will lead to Wheatley – parent company of Scotland’s largest social landlord Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) – becoming a 50-50 joint owner and partner in City Building Glasgow, the council’s wholly-owned subsidiary.

The new £2.7 billion partnership between Scotland’s largest council and the country’s biggest social landlord will secure 2000 jobs and more than 2000 apprenticeships as well as sustaining employment for disabled workers for the next 30 years.

As well as delivering a £33 million a year (excluding VAT) repairs service for Wheatley, the JV will be responsible for GHA’s £27m annual capital investment programme and the city council’s own repairs, worth £30m annually.

Gordon Sloan, chair of GHA and a director of Wheatley Group, said: “Our number-one priority is to ensure our tenants and factored homeowners continue to receive in the years ahead an outstanding repairs service and the new JV gives us the best opportunity to do that.

“GHA and Wheatley have a strong and productive record of partnership working with City Building and Glasgow City Council and we look forward to building on that excellent platform in the years ahead.”

Councillor Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “This deal is a hugely important step that secures jobs, apprenticeships and training places, and future investment for the city.

“It will guarantee 30 years of work, worth £2.7billion, in challenging economic times and generate a further £225million for the city’s wider economy every year.

“Wheatley Group’s investment demonstrates how our partnership has worked over the past 13 years and the group’s complete confidence in City Building to continually deliver the quality and service they expect.”

City Building won what was then GHA’s five-year repairs contract, with an optional four-year extension, in 2009. The extension was exercised by Wheatley, GHA’s (new) parent organisation in 2013.

Last year, with two years of the contract to run, Wheatley’s Strategic Development Committee commissioned an independent options appraisal, looking at everything from procuring a new tender and bringing the service in-house to exploring the possibility of a JV.

Campbell Tickell, independent consultants specialising in housing and regeneration management, were appointed to lead the review, supported by a panel of advisors, comprising:

  • top UK property managers Savills, who appraised repairs service delivery and the commercial environment for repairs contracts in Wheatley’s operating area;
  • Big Four accountants PwC, who conducted a complete financial assessment;
  • leading Scottish law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn, who focused on all possible legal issues;
  • and respected corporate advisors Spence and Partners, who studied all pensions matters.

In December, Wheatley Board approved a recommendation from Campbell Tickell to take forward two options – taking the service in-house and forming a JV with City Building – for further examination.

At a meeting on February 24, Wheatley board then accepted the Campbell Tickell recommendation, accepted by Wheatley’s Strategic Development Committee, to “proceed to detailed due diligence and negotiation of the joint venture with GCC”.

Campbell Tickell’s report and risk analysis concluded a JV offered Wheatley a range of critical advantages, including its ability to;

  • build on an established record of strategic and working relationships with City Building and the existing high level of operational integration;
  • lower the overall risk of failure or an adverse impact on the quality or continuity of service delivery;
  • avoid the need to incur millions of pounds in start-up costs;
  • provide opportunities to incentivise the workforce and develop a culture that would lead to further improvements in performance and efficiency;
  • benefit from cost pooling and management efficiencies;
  • introduce state-of-the-art systems, reduce overhead costs and move towards a multi-skilled workforce;
  • and benefit from City Building senior staff’s commercial skills and experience.

Wheatley Group chair, Alastair MacNish, said: “The independent review concluded a joint venture was the best means of providing a truly top-class service to our customers and communities. We are totally committed to improving an excellent repairs service that is already achieving 93 per cent customer satisfaction, whilst gaining maximum value for money.

“In the months ahead, we will work through the detail of how the JV will operate, aiming to have everything in place to proceed in 2017.”

City Building awarded gold standard for supporting youth employment

The City Building team and apprentices with Roseanna Cunningham in the centre, City Building chair, Councillor James Adams on the left and City Building executive director, Graham Paterson on the right

The City Building team and apprentices with Roseanna Cunningham in the centre, City Building chair, Councillor James Adams on the left and City Building executive director, Graham Paterson on the right

City Building has been presented with a prestigious employment accreditation for its efforts to prepare young people for the world of work.

Cabinet secretary for fair work, skills and training, Roseanna Cunningham, presented the construction team with their Investors in Young People (IIYP) Gold accreditation during a visit to the company’s award-winning training centre at Queenslie.

The gold accreditation is the highest level any company can achieve in the IIYP framework, which aims to support organisations looking to recruit, retain and develop young people.

The cabinet secretary with painting and decorating trainee Lisa Murphy, 18, from Shettleston

The cabinet secretary with painting and decorating trainee Lisa Murphy, 18, from Shettleston

City Building achieved the certification for its commitment to deliver industry-leading training at its centres Queenslie College, Laurieston Construction Skills Academy and the learning centre at the company’s supported employment facility, Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBi).

The judges were particularly impressed by the level of coaching and mentoring provided by City Building’s managers helping the apprentices reach their full potential.

Cabinet secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am very pleased that City Building have signed the Scottish Business Pledge and achieved their gold Investors in Young People Award. These landmarks clearly demonstrate that they are fully committed to both developing their young workforce and promoting a fair an equal workplace.

“They already have a very strong track record on apprenticeships and I am sure both the firm and their trainees will benefit from such dedication.”

Ms Cunningham with Joinery trainee Lauren MacGregor

Ms Cunningham with joinery trainee Lauren MacGregor

City Building chair, Councillor James Adams, said: “We are proud of City Building’s long standing commitment to support and develop the workforce of the future, giving them the skills, experience and determination they need to succeed.

“That our managers have been singled out for the first class training and support they provide to our apprentices is a noteworthy achievement in itself. They go above and beyond what is expected and this demonstrates that the company’s commitment to excellence is embedded throughout our entire workforce.”

Investors in Young People is delivered by Investors in People Scotland specialists whose expert knowledge, skills and experience have helped a range of organisations across the country attract young talented people to their business.

City Building apprentices help bring Paul Smith fashion exhibition to life

All the painter and decorator apprentices that took part in the event were: Kyle Moran, Lisa Murphy, Andrew Weir, Michael McManus, Joseph Barr, John Kavanagh, Gillian Grant, Adams Gibbs, Craig Morrison and Christian Gibson

All the painter and decorator apprentices that took part in the event were: Kyle Moran, Lisa Murphy, Andrew Weir, Michael McManus, Joseph Barr, John Kavanagh, Gillian Grant, Adams Gibbs, Craig Morrison and Christian Gibson

A team of young apprentices from City Building has helped bring British designer, Paul Smith’s highly anticipated fashion and design exhibition to life.

Thirteen apprentices worked on customising space in The Lighthouse, Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture in Glasgow to accommodate “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” a touring exhibition by the Design Museum, London, which launched in the city last week. The exhibition traces the designer’s development from the early 1970s until present day.

The team commenced work on the project in November last year. They were given a photograph of the designer’s first shop in Byard Lane and worked hard to replicate the space. The apprentices also helped create a visual room called “Inside Paul’s Head” which gives an insight into the designer’s mind. The team also provided joinery, electrical, painting and decorating skills to ensure the space was ready in time for the opening.

Lighthouse 34In addition to the work carried out by the apprentices the company’s supported manufacturing facility, Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBI), also provided all the timber elements to create the rooms as well as the plinth that the original signature stripe mini sits upon.

The City Building team that worked along with other volunteers on the project were invited to meet Paul Smith before the exhibition opened to the public.

Apprentice painter and decorator, Lisa Murphy, 19 from Glasgow, said: “It was really exciting to get the chance to work on the exhibition. I painted the plinth that Paul Smith’s famous stripe Mini sits on, which is going to go around the world. I loved working on it – it really was the chance of a lifetime and an experience I won’t forget in a hurry.

“We were all really excited to meet Paul. He thanked us for our hard work and signed all our overalls as a keepsake of the exhibition so we would have something to remember it by.”

Lighthouse 29Cllr James Adams, chair, City Building, said: “This was a great opportunity for our apprentices to showcase their skills in a different environment. They were all really engaged with the project and did an excellent job.

“The high quality job the team produced on this project is testament to their professionalism and hard work and I’d like to congratulate everyone involved.”

Ian Elder from The Lighthouse added: “It was a pleasure to work with the apprentices from City Building and give them experience of working in a ‘live’ environment. The feedback we’ve had so far about the exhibition has been nothing but positive and I’d like to thank the apprentices once again for their time and great work.”

The “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” exhibition is at The Lighthouse until 20 March 2016 and is expected to attract around 10,000 visitors.

City Building recognised for supporting carers in its workforce

Sue McLintock, from Carer’s Scotland (3rd from left) Cllr. James Adams, chair of City Building (centre) Graham Patterson, executive director, City Building (3rd from right)

Sue McLintock, from Carer’s Scotland (3rd from left) Cllr. James Adams, chair of City Building (centre) Graham Paterson, executive director, City Building (3rd from right)

City Building has become the first Scottish company in its sector to be named as a “Carer Positive Employer”.

The Glasgow construction firm received the accolade by the Carer Positive initiative, which is operated by Carers Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, with the aim of making life better for those who have responsibilities to look after dependent family members.

City Building had to demonstrate an awareness of carers within its workforce and show what commitment it has made to support them through workplace policies and practices.

The support systems established by the firm includes its leave for dependents policy, flexible working policy, support from line managers, HR and occupational health and employee assistance.

In order to raise awareness of the support offered the company promotes the policy and practices on its intranet and publicises it on promotional material around the office and its sites across Glasgow.

Graham Paterson, executive director at City Building, said: “We are very pleased to receive ‘Carer Positive Employer’ status for our efforts to support our workforce.

“We have carried out surveys to identify the number of carers in our operation and have put measures in place with their immediate line managers in order to flexibly manage workloads to accommodate their responsibilities.

“We recognise how challenging being a carer can be and are happy to work with our team to create a working environment that is mindful of their obligations.”

Robert McFadden, carer and City Building employee, said: “It is such a relief and benefit to have an understanding employer willing to help ease the pressure on those of us who have carer responsibilities.

“The flexibility City Building provides means I don’t have the added stress of worrying about how I’m going to organise my work when arrangements go awry as my line manager will work with me to help manage this.”

City Building gives big to good causes this Christmas

CB_CashForKids010City Building has presented two charities with £10,000 each following successful fundraising activities.

The cheques were presented to Cash for Kids and Kidney Research UK at Glasgow City Chambers following a charity golf day jointly organised by the construction company and the Lord Provost’s and International Office.

City Building selected the charities to receive these funds as part of its community engagement programme allowing the firm to give something back to the city.

Clyde 1 drivetime DJ Grant Thomson was present to accept the donation on behalf of Radio Clyde’s Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas campaign which is aimed at making Christmas Day better for thousands of vulnerable children in Glasgow and the west of Scotland. The money donated by City Building and the Lord Provost’s office will be used to provide more than 400 children in Glasgow and the west with either a hot meal, clothes or a gift this Christmas.

Debbie Fraser, charity manager for Radio Clyde Cash for Kids, said: “Generous donations, like City Buildings’, have a huge impact on the work we do and will ensure that hundreds of vulnerable local children have something to look forward to on Christmas day.

“Every penny goes directly to the children as all of the administrative costs of the charity are met by other means. Thanks to everyone at City Building.”

City Building, with support from its suppliers and staff from the Lord Provost’s and International Office, raised the money by organising and participating in a charity golf day at Sandyhills Golf Course earlier in the year.

Graham Paterson, executive director of City Building, said: “We are pleased and proud alongside the Lord Provost to present these £10,000 donations to Cash for Kids and Kidney Research UK.

“At this time of year when we are all looking forward to Christmas it is great to be able to give something back to good causes like these. It is particularly poignant that £10,000 of the money raised will be used to improve the festive season for more than 400 children across the city.

“I’d like to thank all our team and supply chain as well as the Lord Provost’s Office for their generosity which has enabled us to hand over such an impressive donation today.”

Glasgow’s Lord Provost Sadie Docherty said: “I know these donations will make a real difference to vulnerable children across the city and to people living with kidney disease. Thanks to all the teams for taking part and raising this money.”

Kidney Research UK aims to find a cure for millions of people suffering chronic kidney disease. The money raised by City Building and the Lord Provost’s office will be used for research projects to improve treatments.

City Building welcomes leading UK safety trainer

Jason Anker

Jason Anker

City Building welcomed the UK’s leading speaker on behavioural safety training to its Glasgow headquarters this week to share insights on how individual’s approach safety as part of the Proud 2B Safe programme.

Jason Anker is one of the UK’s foremost speakers on safety training and was recently made MBE in recognition of his services to health and safety in the construction industry.

He visited City Building staff on Tuesday to deliver talks to managers, supervisors and apprentices working in the construction industry as part of the Proud 2B Safe programme which aims to take safety beyond compliance.

During his visit Jason spoke to the team about how his personal experiences have affected him and his family and how it is important to keep yourself safe at work. Following an interactive question and answer session, individual employees made personal commitments and signed up to the Proud 2b Safe campaign.

Jason’s passion for safety stems from his own personal experiences and challenges. He was paralysed from the waist down due to an avoidable incident on a construction site in 1993 at just 24 years old.

Jason City Building2Speaking of his work with Proud 2B Safe, Jason said: ‘’We need to change the way we think about safety, currently there is still a fear about speaking up if something is or appears unsafe, sometimes this is perception but we have to strive for a culture where it just the norm to accept that everybody has the right to go home safely to their loved ones’. Proud 2b Safe takes safety beyond compliance.”

Graham Paterson, executive director of City Building, added: “City Building has always taken its commitment to health and safety very seriously and this is why we were delighted to welcome Jason to meet employees to allow him to share his story and illustrate how important it is that our team keep themselves safe on site.

“Our team were very engaged by Jason’s workshop and presentation and I believe it has helped demonstrate to our team how important the policies and procedures are that we put in place both on site and in our offices and training facilities to ensure our team operate in a safe environment.”

City Building has a comprehensive Health, Safety and Environmental strategy and operates to OHSAS 18001 and 14001 registrations. The company also has a range of in house management systems, policies and procedures to cover all of its activities and locations.

Police to investigate contracts issue concerning former City Building employee

City BuildingA contract issue concerning a former employee of Glasgow City Council’s arms-length construction firm City Building is to be investigated after the local authority passed information to the police.

The issue relates to a complaint that was made by a contractor which was subsequently investigated by the council’s internal audit team.

Glasgow City Council said it has passed information to the police following the investigation and that the individual concerned is no longer employed at City Building.

A council spokesman said: “Following a complaint from a contractor, an investigation was carried out by the council’s internal audit.

“The subject of that investigation is no longer an employee of City Building.

“Information was also passed to Police Scotland and it would be inappropriate to comment further while any investigation is ongoing.”

A City Building spokesperson told Scottish Construction Now: “As the council has confirmed, the matter is now subject to a police investigation. As this investigation is about an individual and not City Building, it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

City Building celebrates its talent at ninth annual apprentice awards

The award winnersScottish construction company City Building has rewarded the tradespeople of tomorrow at its annual Apprentice Awards, which took place on Tuesday 16 June.

Around 180 apprentices across all sectors of the business including, construction, administration, heating and lift engineering were shortlisted for the awards, which were hosted by Radio Clyde DJ Diane Knox (Knoxy) at the City Chambers in Glasgow.

A total of 23 awards were handed out at the event which saw 4th year apprentice painter and decorator Lee Raeburn named City Building Apprentice of the Year.

Lee (20) from Castlemilk was also one of two apprentices who travelled to Malawi last year to refurbish and upgrade a medical centre in the country’s capital Lilongwe, as part of Glasgow’s links with the country.

He said: “It was great to be nominated for the award but to win it is a really special feeling.

“City Building is a great place to work and the award gives me a great confidence boost to go on and do well in my career.”

Graham Paterson, executive director of City Building, said: “The awards are a great chance for all of us at City Building to celebrate the excellent work being carried out by our company’s emerging talent.

“Lee is a prime example of the type of skilled young tradesperson that City Building is determined to develop and it is important that we take the time to recognise both Lee and the other award winners for their achievements over the past year.

“We’re incredibly proud of our apprenticeship programme and each of the 350 apprentices who are taking part in the scheme.

“Our strong social ethos and commitment to investing in the workforce of the future sets us apart from many of our competitors.”

The shortlisted apprentices were recommended by their managers and went through a rigorous interview process by the management team in order to be selected.

The judges highlighted that Lee is “an outstanding student, driven and very hard working.   He always pushes himself further and excels as a team leader.   Lee was a member of the team from City Building who recently carried out humanitarian work in Malawi and that experience has stood him in good stead with other apprentices.”

Other winners on the day included:

  • 1st Year Administrator – Fraser Wells
  • 2nd Year Administrator – Dilip Singh
  • 1st Year Electrician – Ross Leary
  • 2nd Year Electrician – Kyle Evans
  • 3rd Year Electrician – Kieren Olliffe
  • 4th Year Electrician – Ashley Brodie
  • 1st Year Joinery and Carpentry – Graeme Howe
  • 2nd Year Joinery and Carpentry – Jamie Nelson
  • 3rd Year Joinery and Carpentry – Drew Rennie
  • 4th Year Joinery and Carpentry – Anthony Clarke
  • 1st Year Painter and Decorator – Andrew Weir
  • 2nd Year Painter and Decorator – Kyle Moran
  • 3rd Year Painter and Decorator – Craig Kerr
  • 4th Year Painter and Decorator – Lee Raeburn
  • Adult Apprentice Painter and Decorator – Jamie Hamill
  • 1st Year Plumber – Christy McIntosh
  • 2nd Year Plumber – Jordan McKellar
  • 3rd Year Plumber – Charlie Duffy
  • 4th Year Plumber – David Milne
  • Heating Engineer – Jonnie Donnelly
  • 2nd Year Lift Engineer – Joint winners Matthew MacDonald and Brooke Martin
  • 4th Year Lift Engineer – Grant Fountain.

Blog: Securing the future of our industry

Alan Burns

Alan Burns

By Alan Burns, divisions manager for City Building

There have been reports for some time of a skills gap in the construction industry where talents like bricklaying, steel-fixing and concreting are in short supply.

One way of addressing this loss of skills within the industry is to encourage more young people to consider an apprenticeship as a career route.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week is a reminder to organisations of the important role that apprenticeships play in securing the future of our industry and the increased need for a more strategic approach to nurturing and growing talent within the industry.

Quality apprenticeships can help people progress and succeed and they can help businesses create the skilled workforce they need to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace. But while some employers have made investing in their workforces a key part of their business strategy during the economic slowdown others have been less ambitious.  As the construction industry shows signs of improvement following a prolonged downturn, now is the time to act.

When I began my career as an apprentice blacksmith in the early 90s I was fortunate to have secured a position with City Building (formerly known as the Building Services Department of Glasgow City Council). The organisation recognised my potential and supported my career development through my apprenticeship and beyond helping me gain an MBA in Resource Management and an LLM in Construction Law. This ethos is woven throughout the fabric of what we do and demonstrates why City Building has one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes in the UK with a 92 per cent completion rate compared with the industry average of 74 per cent.

Apprenticeships are critical to business growth and development no matter what sector you belong to. They provide a continued pipeline of talent that will help secure the future of the business and inject new ideas and enthusiasm into the organisation. But more needs to be done to ensure that enough companies offer them.

Adopting a structured and continuous apprenticeship programme is a sustainable way of growing and retaining a highly skilled workforce. However, the development of apprenticeship programmes and securing future talent cannot be done independent of the wider business strategy it must be part of a more structured approach and be an integral part of future business plans.

By creating apprenticeship programmes that focus on workforce development through training initiatives, performance improvement programmes, educational engagement and sector engagement we can ensure that people will see the long term benefits of a career in the construction industry which offers real career progression.

What is clear is that companies must broaden their outlook by developing more structured apprenticeships that match their needs with a clear strategy for identifying future talent. By doing this we will secure long term change which can bring about a major improvement in the skills within the construction industry.