Building success: upskilling employees leads to business growth

The challenge

When your business success relies on timing and efficiency, it is vital that employees are not only equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge in the industry they are working in, but that they also have the confidence to perform their job correctly to a tight schedule.

This encouraged Middlesbrough-based construction and engineering firm, Hughes Bros Construction Ltd, to go beyond mandatory training in 2018 and invest in additional staff training, to help the company reach its ambitious plans to grow the business by 50% over the next 12 months.

As specialists in civil groundworks for building and commercial projects, the team spends a lot of time travelling between jobs transporting goods and undertaking remediation and groundworks on sites.

Having noticed delays in projects and work being completed on time, Hughes Bros became aware that employees could benefit from training to improve their driving skills to avoid making simple mistakes on, and between, jobs. This would free up valuable time for managers, which could then be spent focusing on the business’s expansion goals, instead of dealing with avoidable incidents on sites.

The solution

Will Chapmore, Road and Sewers Director at Hughes Bros approached the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) team, which offers fully-funded training courses to employees of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to help address what the cause of the problems were and to explore what could be done to help.

The SSW programme supports businesses looking to grow and is available to SMEs seeking non-compulsory, work-based training. It is free to businesses through the European Union’s European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

Will and his Contracts Manager, Gwyn Hughes, worked closely with Iain Martin of Rhino Training Ltd, one of the registered training providers for Calderdale College in the Tees Valley area, which oversees the delivery of the SSW programme to complete a detailed training needs analysis.

This skills analysis session involved both parties working together to develop a tailored training programme; identifying what course could help them, which staff would benefit and how the training would work best around the needs of the business.

Gywn commented: “We knew upskilling our staff could help with our growth plans, but it was difficult to understand where the problems were in our inefficiencies and we were unaware of what training was available to us. Iain quickly identified where the skills gaps were, spent time with the team to understand their ability and needs, and was able to recommend the relevant course.

“Our main aim was to give the team a well-needed boost – to not only give them the confidence and knowledge to perform their job more productively, but to improve employee motivation through showing we were investing in them.”

The training took place over a four-month period, between April to October 2018, with 25 learners achieving ‘Certificate in Driving Goods Vehicles’. 95% of learners progressed onto higher level qualifications, including a Level 3 unit ‘Plan the route and timings for collection and delivery of goods’.

One year on…

Hughes Bros recognised the benefits from the training instantly with employees driving more efficiently between sites, so more jobs are successfully kept on schedule.

Employees are also now more aware of their surroundings, so the business is seeing a decrease in minor vehicle accidents such as bumps and scrapes which not only brings financial benefits, but also fewer delays to their client’s build schedules.

Looking back over the past year, the advantages of the training continue to shine through. Gwyn said: “We have seen a major decline in our previous inefficiencies. Our staff are much more focused following their training which has given them greater confidence and empowerment.

“As I am not spending time sorting out paperwork for incidents, it has given me the capacity to focus on areas of business growth, which I didn’t have the resources to do previously. We are winning more work on different sites and we are now dealing with major companies such as Barratt Developments.

“We are also able to train our new recruits with what has been learnt. As soon as they join the team, they have the right training internally, learning correct methods from the get-go, rather than getting into habits that lead to inefficiencies. This also gives our current team members the chance to enhance their management skills, as they can pass on their insight, providing further job satisfaction.”

The main benefit Hughes Bros has noticed has been the increase in team morale. Gywn continued: “It has been brilliant to see a boost in team motivation following their training. By investing in our staff and giving them the opportunity to upskill, they feel valued to the company. We are a business that wants to grow, and our employees are at the heart of this.”

After seeing continuous benefits over the past year, the business is now exploring additional ways to broaden its team’s skills and continue to boost motivation, in order to assist with growth plans of expanding the company by working with major companies and securing bigger contracts.

Success from skills training

Ebrahim Dockrat MBE, Director of Commercial Services and Partnerships at Calderdale College, the main contractor for Skills Support for the Workforce, discusses the success of the project: “It is brilliant to hear about how the skills training we have provided is helping businesses with their long-term goals. Through training staff, you can improve your ability to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment through not only providing employees with knowledge to do the job more productivity but giving them a boost of motivation by investing in their individual career journeys.

“The SSW programme has helped over 1,600 people in the Tees Valley area, with over 600 businesses, including Hughes Bros, having taken advantage of the opportunity. They are all now reaping the benefits and looking to continue training to help their business growth.”

For more information on the Skills Support for the Workforce project, please click here

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