Support For National Apprenticeship Week

19 March 2013

Costain gave its support to National Apprenticeship Week last week, the nationwide initiative that celebrates the positive impact apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the UK economy.

National Apprenticeship Week is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service with the aim of generating a more highly skilled workforce. Costain has recognised that investing in young people and helping the industry address the long-term skills shortage is crucial for the future success of the UK’s economy, as well as the need to build and maintain the country’s national strategic infrastructure. 

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, which ran from 11-15 March, Costain took part in a number of events to highlight the valuable contribution apprentices make to the economy. According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), apprenticeship completions over the next decade could contribute up to £3.4 billion a year to the economy, through productivity gains, by 2022.

The week began when Costain staff, working on the Crossrail C360 contract, attended the Barking and Dagenham College Inspiration Day in East London. The event brought together employers and students for a day of competitions and demonstrations, and allowed students to showcase their skills in plumbing, brickwork, decorating and plastering. The bricklaying competition was sponsored by Costain and judged by Lee Piper from the Reading Station Redevelopment Project.

On 13 March, Costain’s Group Technical and Operations Director, Alan Kay, and Tim Embley, the Group’s Innovation and Knowledge Manager, took three Costain apprentices - David Cassar, an apprentice Civil Engineer working on Bond Street; Luc Williams, an apprentice Civil Engineer working at Paddington; and Abad Zalal, a Procurement apprentice working at London Bridge - to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in Westminster, London*. The team launched a display to raise awareness about the importance of apprenticeships and to highlight Costain’s commitment to creating real employment opportunities for young people.

Also last week, two apprentices, Rob Ingram and Chris Appleby, had the opportunity to spend the day with a Divisional Managing Director to gain an insight into how the business works at a senior level and to pick up some career tips from the Company’s leaders.

Darren James, MD of Costain’s Infrastructure Division, took Rob under his wing while Mark Rogerson, MD of the Natural Resources Division, looked after Chris.

Commenting on his experience, Rob said: “I was offered the opportunity to shadow Darren James for a day and I jumped at the chance. I started the day by meeting him at our new office at Foster Lane before heading to Heathrow for their Quinqennium 6 meeting, a review of Heathrow’s spending plan.  After this, we went to Canary Wharf to meet with Andy Mitchell from Crossrail for the signing of the C644 contract. It was a great experience being able to shadow a Managing Director and to get an insight into his day-to-day activities."

Providing apprentices is an integral part to Costain’s mission of “Engineering Tomorrow,” the Company’s commitment to identifying, developing and implementing innovative solutions in order to meet the national need. Nurturing young talent is a key part of that strategy.

“In order to address the challenge of meeting our national needs, we need professionally trained and highly motivated staff. We are therefore extremely proud to support and recognise our outstanding community of apprentices during National Apprenticeship Week and beyond,” said Mark Rogerson.

Costain’s Darren James added: “Creating the skilled teams to deliver UK Infrastructure for the 21st Century necessitates the need for apprenticeships now. At Costain, apprentices are a fundamental part of our approach to creating world class teams to deliver innovative solutions for our customers who require us to create, maintain and operate this infrastructure."

Costain has made apprenticeships an operational priority. Now in its third year, the Costain Apprentice Scheme delivers training and employment opportunities to young people seeking a career in the construction and civil engineering industry.
Starting with just six apprentices in 2008, the Company now has 60 young people working in every facet of its business, including building and civil engineering, electrical installation, business administration, laboratory technician, accountancy, instrument design, civil/structural design and piping design.

Val Thompstone, Costain’s Apprentice and NVQ Manager, is now organising the Company’s Annual Apprentice Seminar between 3-5 April at the Wyboston Lakes Conference Centre in Bedfordshire. The event gives the apprentices an opportunity to work together to develop their core skills while receiving valuable advice on how to succeed in their chosen careers.

“Costain understands the importance of being a responsible business and supporting our customers’ needs through effective management of environmental, social and economic issues to meet our objectives. Providing employment opportunities and effective training programmes for people seeking a career in the construction and civil engineering sector is a key part of that responsibility,” said Val.

The Costain Apprentice Scheme is also a key component of Costain Cares, the Group’s strategy to build a long-term sustainable business that is more responsible - economically, socially and environmentally – to the needs of its stakeholders and the communities in which it works. Costain is an active member of Business in the Community (BITC)  and supports its goal of helping every young person, particularly those facing social disadvantage, to receive support from business to build successful working lives.

Catherine Warbrick, Costain’s Corporate Responsibility Director, said: “We are delighted to be associated with National Apprentice Week and Business in the Community. We take great pride in nurturing talent and, in-line with our Costain Cares strategy, our Apprenticeship Scheme gives young people from all backgrounds an excellent opportunity to learn and develop relevant skills for a successful future.”

*If you would like to listen to Abad, Luc and David discussing their experience of working as apprentices with Costain, please click on the following link: