Free training creates a multi-skilled, flexible and confident workforce

The challenge

Metcalfe Developments, based in Stockton-on-Tees, provides specialist waterproofing services for a range of well-known national and international attractions, including Yorkshire Wildlife Park, The Shard in London and the Ocean Arena in Hong Kong.

As staff often work with hazardous materials, and the job itself involves a lot of manual handling and heavy lifting, Managing Director John Metcalfe needed to make sure that the business’ employees were well trained to keep themselves and others safe.

He also noticed inconsistencies in the team’s ability, with some employees not being qualified to, or not feeling confident in operating the different types of machinery necessary to complete jobs and handle deliveries.

For example, Metcalfe Developments often receives deliveries which need to be transported via forklift truck. Not all staff were confident in operating a fork-life truck, so the business was experiencing delays if an employee with the necessary skills wasn’t on shift.

With concerns that delays were having a negative impact on the business’s productivity and therefore revenue, and a desire to make sure his employees felt confident and comfortable at work, John started to explore training options.

The solution

When looking into how to fill his skills gaps, John came across Tim at D C Training and Development Services Limited, one of the specialist training providers working with Calderdale College, which oversees the delivery of the Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme across Tees Valley.

The SSW programme supports businesses looking to upskill their workforces and is available to small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). It is free to businesses through funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

John knew he had skills gaps, but wasn’t sure how to fill them, so Tim offered him a free skills assessment to determine which courses would best benefit the business. Together they developed a programme to refresh employee knowledge around operating machinery and the business’s health and safety policies and keep staff up-to-date with current manufacturing legislation.

A total of 13 on-site and office staff were enrolled in a range of free training courses, including Transferring Materials, Performing Manufacturing Operations, Industrial Environment Awareness and Forklift Truck Operations.

The training was provided on-site in Metcalfe’s training centre. Employees learned in a classroom setting, before putting theory into practice on the shop floor.

John was initially concerned that the training would be time consuming, impacting the business’ ability to complete its ongoing jobs on time. However, Tim made sure that employees were trained in groups of two and three, and that whoever wasn’t receiving training that day was able to complete jobs instead, meaning business operations were able to run as normal.

The impact

Since the training, John has noticed a significant improvement in the business’s efficiency, with all work now being completed within the required time frame.

This has been thanks to more staff feeling confident in using all of the business’ on-site machinery, rather than tasks being delegated to one person. John commented:

“Thanks to the refresher in health and safety policy and legislations, combined with the practical modules in operating machinery, staff are now actively volunteering to complete tasks such as operating the scissor lift, which they wouldn’t have done in the past. This means work can be completed instantly, rather than having to wait for certain team members to be available.”

Office staff were also given a confidence boost as the training gave them additional skills and responsibility. All the office staff completed the Transferring Materials course and the majority also learned how to operate a forklift truck, helping them to safely pick up and move deliveries if on-site members are working away.

Commenting on the impact of the training, John added, “Knowing that all members of the team are working to the highest health and safety standards is very reassuring, both for us and our customers. With nearly all of our staff now able to operate a forklift truck, the business also has much more flexibility, meaning we can process and complete orders more seamlessly and reduce delays, which helps to improve customer satisfaction.”

He added “We are looking to recruit new team members and having seen the impact of training on our existing staff, we’ll definitely be providing our new recruits with free training through SSW to make sure they feel confident in their role from the get-go. I’d definitely recommend the programme to a fellow business owner, in fact, I already have!”

Success from skills training

Since it was established, over 3,200 people and 950 businesses across Tees Valley have benefitted from free training through the SSW programme.

Helen Howland, Head of the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme in Tees Valley, praised Metcalfe Developments, saying: “Flexibility is so important for many SMEs, especially given the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic. By investing in its staff’s skills, Metcalfe Developments has become more adaptable and resilient, which will in turn have a positive impact on its reputation for providing a high-quality and timely service to its customers.”

She added “It was very gratifying to hear that John had recommended SSW to other SMEs, and we’d encourage any Tees Valley business owners to get in touch to see how we can help them to boost staff confidence, increase operational flexibility and ultimately, futureproof their business.”

For more information on the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme, please get in touch.

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