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Royal Praise For Industry Help

7 February 2011

The Prince of Wales has praised industry’s assistance in helping communities and vulnerable people regain their places as productive members of society, as Costain prepares to show its industry peers how it is helping in the process.

Chief Executive, Andrew Wyllie, and Group Strategy & Business Development Director, Stephen Wells, were at St James’s Palace in central London last week for the annual feedback session of Seeing Is Believing (SIB), a programme staged by the charity Business in the Community (BITC), of which Prince Charles is president.

Every year, around nine SIB sessions are staged around the UK where blue chip companies invite around 60 Chief Executives and senior Directors to show them how they are translating corporate responsibility principles into reality on the ground.

Audience members go back to their companies, hopefully sufficiently fired up to start practical corporate responsibility programmes of their own.

Wells added that Prince Charles had said he was “immensely proud” of the SIB programme, which he started 20 years ago. “He was very pleased with the results it’s yielding but that there is always more to do.”

Wells has seen the benefits of this at first hand. Late last year he attended an SIB meeting at Feltham Young Offenders’ facility in West London, where the capital’s mayor, Boris Johnson, has been supporting a programme – known as Project Heron – designed to cut the rate of re-offending among youths.

Remarkably, a combination of apprenticeships plus other work and life skills has seen the re-offending rate plummet from a typical 78% to just 16-18%.

Costain is now gearing up to show its industry peers the results of its own efforts in this field.

On 7 April, Wyllie is due to lead an SIB session in London where Costain will roll out its activities related to taking on disadvantaged and unemployed youngsters on National Grid and Crossrail projects in the capital.

However, as Wells who will be the event’s co-sponsor comments, Costain is not doing this for charitable reasons. “It’s got to be good for business. It’s all about the skills agenda, putting people back to work and equipping them with skills for the long term.”

There are also solid financial benefits in such programmes for UK plc. It costs the taxpayer up to £60,000 a year to keep a young offender locked up, for example, when they could be earning a wage and not being a burden on society.

The April session will show senior Executives what Costain is doing in this field: “The idea is to expose them to real apprentices and young offenders and meet the people who are delivering our skills agenda, such as Group Talent & Skills Manager, Jeremy Galpin.”