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Upskilling for an upturn

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Education & Training

Tarmac use support from the Joint Investment Programme to maintain staff training drive

With a challenging economic environment forcing many companies to focus on short-term issues and place less emphasis on areas such as training and skills development, Tarmac have continued to maintain their staff training programme – boosting competence levels and bringing commercial benefits.

Funding secured through the Joint Investment Programme (JIP), which is administered by Proskills, the Sector Skills Council for the Process and Manufacturing Industries, has allowed the company to provide a training programme for 52 members of staff in health, safety and environmental management. This is to ensure that supervisors are up to date with changes in processes and technology in order to improve management of these issues on site.

‘A key driver behind providing training is the legislative requirement to ensure that our employees have a good level of occupational competency. But, as a responsible and trusted company, it also makes complete business sense to ensure we have a fully competent and safe workforce,’ said Dyfed Jones, the company’s vocational training manager.

The construction industry in general is still recovering from the effects of the global recession. However, Mr Jones believes that skills development in areas such as sustainability, a key driver of future growth, is crucial to ensuring that Tarmac are ready as conditions start to improve. 

‘Many companies across the construction industry have cut back in certain areas, such as training. However, we are ensuring that we are ready to pick up the baton and increase our production levels to respond to the market as demand increases,’ he stressed. ‘As demand increases we will be in a position to capitalise and respond to our customers’ needs.’ 

While the priority for Tarmac in terms of the Proskills training has been management and supervisory staff working in the quarries, the company aims to provide training right across the workforce. 

‘We currently have 52 quarry staff undertaking the Health, Safety and Environment Management QCF (Qualification Credit Framework) Level 4 Diploma through Proskills, but we hope to roll this out further across the Tarmac business in the near future,’ said Mr Jones.

‘Sustainability is a key area, driven by social and corporate responsibility, environmental concerns and legislation. The technologies that we use to manage our quarries have developed significantly over the last few years; they are increasingly efficient. 

‘The ways that we develop our workforce and the processes in place have also changed, so it’s vital to ensure that our employees continue to have the relevant skills, both to support their development and to ensure we continue to offer quality products,’ said Mr Jones. 

The positive impact of this training on the business bottom line is difficult to measure; however, Dyfed Jones is in no doubt that it brings tangible benefits to the company. ‘A lot of our quarry-based employees drive expensive dumpers, shovels and excavators. They’re now better trained, so there’s less need for repairs and maintenance, the fuel costs are lower and they’re driving more efficiently, resulting in improved productivity,’ he explained. 

With both the company and individual employees benefiting from the JIP, Mr Jones is keen for the initiative to continue. ‘It would be good if the next round of the JIP was opened up to other qualifications – such as plant and process Level 2 qualifications, or potentially technical qualifications for the staff working in our laboratories,’ he said.

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