Morris & Spottiswood reports apprenticeship surge

Morris & Spottiswood trainees

Construction firm Morris & Spottiswood is reporting a surge in apprenticeships after taking on eight new starters in 2018 and growing the division by 25%.

The fit-out, housing, M&E (Mechanical & Electrical) and Facilities Management (FM) specialist is now training a total of 39 apprentices across offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Warrington and Leeds.

An additional 11 employees have either recently graduated or are working in trainee roles while undertaking vocational college courses.

Morris & Spottiswood human resources director, Allan Boyd, said the latest figures demonstrate the company’s firm commitment to skills development and training.

“Our apprenticeship scheme is flourishing alongside our graduate training initiative which began in 2016,” he said. “Due to the success of the scheme we have recruited an average of eight new apprentices each consecutive year since 2014. It is geared towards training in core skills and sectors, while our graduate programme has been developed to expose recruits to many different disciplines for a well-rounded experience.

“The apprentice expansion comes at a time when the UK construction sector faces significant challenges in terms of knowledge transfer and skill development. This is largely linked to the 2007 recession, which decimated workforces and led to a slump in skills training. It is a legacy which the UK construction industry is still struggling to recover from. There is also the added complication of an aging workforce, with staff aged 60-plus increasing, and diminished numbers of those aged 30 and under.

“This national backdrop has forced firms to be innovative. Companies like Morris & Spottiswood have had to adapt and become more efficient to succeed, in areas like attracting school and college leavers with well-structured, professional training and development packages.”

Morris & Spottiswood’s current workforce stands at 392 rising from 365 in 2015. The firm works across many sectors including education, retail, financial, housing, leisure, health and commercial markets. Turnover currently stands at £80m and is expected to break the £100m barrier within the next 12 months, with a wider 10-year growth plan to double turnover by 2028.

Morris & Spottiswood human resources director, Allan Boyd

Mr Boyd said key future recruitment areas are likely to include project managers, quantity surveyors, trade-based roles, contracts managers, administrators and estimators, site managers, multi-skilled technicians, flooring supervisors and contracts administrators.

“The company is in the process of developing a 10-year growth plan, with a focus on sectors that our market intelligence has identified as being suitable for development,” he said. “This will undoubtedly create the need for more employees, but with skills and experience particularly suited to projects in these sectors.

“As part of our growth strategy we are aiming for around 70pc of senior managers to have been appointed from within the business, as we continue to invest significantly in management development. We are continuing to work on programmes with Napier University and Scottish Enterprise, with a total of 17 participants over the past five years. Our involvement with Salford University has also expanded. This includes a new Directors’ Strategic Development Programme accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. A total of 12 of the company’s most senior personnel are taking part in this programme.

“We have a real passion for creating pathways and driving career development at Morris & Spottiswood. We understand that our team is the backbone of this business and in order to achieve our ambitious 10-year growth plan we need to invest heavily from top to bottom to have the necessary skill and competence.”

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