Skills in the built environment continued to be at the front of mind of all organisations in 2016.
The Farmer Review of the construction industry – Modernise or Die – highlighted the continued need to challenge how we attract and retain the best talent in the industry.
In addition, the increased awareness of the additional social value that can be generated through capital projects was realised by our customers meaning social value became a core requirement for many of them.
Wates was proud to receive two prestigious awards during the year. The Queens Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development was the second consecutive award we received, with the judges making particular note to our exemplary and innovative performance in a number of areas of education, engagement with social enterprises and our support to young people and long term unemployed. We also received our second consecutive Community Mark by the Business in the Community – the only nationally recognised accreditation for community investment activities.
MAKING CONSTRUCTION A CAREER OF CHOICE NOT CHANCE
2016 saw the launch of #ThinkBuild – a programme developed in partnership with Career Ready. The Wates-led programme was created to inspire the next generation into the built environment and provide a structure and sector-led approach to school and college engagement that complements the academic year and ensures construction is a career of choice not chance. The 15-month programme works with students aged 16-18 on a range of interventions including master classes linked to a Skills for Success competency framework, work experience, work placements and mentoring. #ThinkBuild was launched in three areas – Manchester, Birmingham and London with 90 students participating. Arcadis are corporate partners of the programme with a number of other companies offering pro bono support in the form of mentoring and work experience. These include Carilliion, Kier, Bam, Wilmott Dixon, and Turner & Townsend.
GIVING CHANCES TO THOSE THAT NEED IT MOST
Success in our pre-employment programme ‘Building Futures’ continued during 2016 with the 1000th person successfully completing the programme. Our long term commitment to the award-winning, two-week programme for unemployed adults ensures that we continue to tackle the growing skills crisis in our sector whilst providing opportunities for those that need it most. Over 90 programmes have been delivered nationally since the programme was established with 54% of the delegates moving into employment or training. In 2016, 11 programmes were delivered nationally with 129 people completing. Importantly 75% of delegates felt their employability skills were improved as a direct result of participating in Building Futures. Our partner Ixion Holdings and Wates Giving continue to support the programme providing funding to ensure its sustainability.
INVESTING IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES
Supporting social enterprises continues to be a key priority for Wates Group in creating sustainable communities and enabling training and employment for those furthest removed from the labour market. We further cemented our commitment with the launch of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge in April 2016 of which Wates is a founder partner. Our aim is to encourage more private sector businesses to trade with social enterprises and collectively invest over £1bn in the sector by 2020. As ambassador to the built environment, we are influencing customers, suppliers and peers and their spending ability through our innovative Seeing is Believing Programmes where we visit social enterprises in action. Through our continued commitment, we have traded over £2m with social enterprises in 2016 and over £9m since establishing our programme, enabling the creation of many employment and training opportunities. In 2016 we undertook a social return on investment evaluation on our work with social enterprises. The study in partnership with the New Economics Foundation, and funded by Wates Giving, looked at the additional social value created through trading with social enterprises. The results found that for every pound invested in Wates social enterprises, an additional £1.77 of social value is created. In addition our strategy also very much supports our inclusion agenda with 35% of Wates social enterprises being led by women and 85% being led by Black and Ethnic Minorities.