Diverse workforce pays dividends for Stephen

Perth housebuilder Stephen is laying the foundations for a more diverse workforce.

Diverse workforce pays dividends for Stephen

Kirsty Welling

The family firm, which dates back to 1935, employs a total of 73 staff including workshop supervisor Kirsty Welling.

From a young age, Kirsty always had a passion for creating and making, so joined the firm as an apprentice at the age of 17, while studying at Perth College.

Twenty-four years on, Kirsty now supervises 11 staff throughout the company’s bespoke timber kit factory, including the paint, joiners and machine shop departments ensuring that all work meets the programme requirements of each site. Collectively, the team boasts an impressive level of expertise and experience, from young apprentices through to workshop painter Peter Farquharson who has notched up a staggering 36 years with the firm. As well as the timber frame kits themselves, Kirsty and her team fabricate everything from stairs and loft hatches to shelving, porches, garage windows and fire surrounds.

As part of its recruitment drive, Stephen recruits a steady follow of apprentices through the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Ranging from bricklayers and painters to joiners, apprentices enjoy a rounded experience across either construction sites or within the factory at Edinburgh Road, Perth. 

The firm also works with various local secondary schools, offering one week’s work experience to pupils within the controlled environment of the factory.

John Stephen, managing director, said: “There is a pretty significant skills shortage within the construction industry so, to ensure that the future workforce in construction is vibrant and engaged, young people need to be re-educated about what construction is really like.

“As a local employer, and family firm dating back over 80 years, we are eager to show young people that there are a number of avenues their career path can take in construction and our work experience programme is key to attracting future workers through a positive, hands-on experience.”

Kirsty added: “Our factory set-up provides a fantastic training ground for apprentices, with a focus on traditional methods alongside the latest technologies and methods. We focus on teaching the trades the right way and do our best to instil our business values across all members of the team. Not only do our apprentices master the basis of their chosen trade, but we can support them in their longer-term goals and, ultimately, shape the next generation of skilled workers to support Scotland’s construction industry.

“As a female, I also play a part in encouraging diversity across the workforce as there is still, unfortunately, a perception that this is a male industry, when clearly that’s not the case anymore – we’re keen to identify all talent, regardless of gender.”

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