Kier supporting the Armed Forces
The company is fully committed to supporting the Armed Forces community, particularly ex-service veterans and Reservists.
Kier was one of 22 companies to achieve ERS Gold in 2016, which recognises employers that are supporting the Armed Forces and making a real difference to the lives of those who serve and their families.
Establishing a Veterans’ Village with DIY SOS
In collaboration with Manchester City Council and a number of service charities, Kier supported the establishment of Veterans’ Village, a new community for wounded service veterans for Haig Housing, which featured on BBC programme DIY SOS in October 2015. Kier project managed the facelift of 62 properties in Canada Street Manchester, including adaptation of four homes for veterans and their families, and a Walking with the Wounded advice and therapy centre.
Following on from this initiative, Kier has converted a further 15 homes for Haig Housing for occupation by veterans, and some of Kier’s veteran community returned to Canada Street in November 2016 to help the DIY SOS team refurbish the final house on the street.
Bringing a motivated workforce to the industry
People are at the heart of Kier’s offer to its employees, who are given the opportunity to build their expertise and contribute to a rich and diverse environment. From assisting ex-service personnel to transition into the civilian working environment, to helping those within Kier who are part of the Reserve forces, and supporting employees who have serving family members, Kier provides training and development opportunities in supportive company culture, with lots of room for growth.
In 2013, Kier was among the first companies to sign the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant, following its signing of the first Armed Forces Council Community Covenant in 2012, in partnership with Birmingham City Council. The Covenant forms part of Kier policy; for example, Reservists are allowed additional annual leave to conduct their military training.
The company strives to ease the path for service leavers to work in the construction industry. The values of Kier and the military are closely aligned, with a focus on collaboration, enthusiasm and forward-thinking, and the company is keen to bring service leavers – a proactive and motivated workforce – into the industry as part of the solution to reverse the current skills shortage.
Offering a range of roles across the UK
Kier knows that the work its employees do makes the world work better. As a national business with a regional heart, Kier is well placed to proactively promote the benefits of a technically skilled, motivated workforce as it establishes contracts around the country.
Kier offers a range of roles to those leaving the Armed Forces, offering a recognised route to employment with something to suit all skillsets, working with Armed Forces Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and specialist ex-Forces recruitment consultants. Early service leavers may choose to learn about a new industry using one of Kier’s accelerated apprenticeship or graduate training programmes, while the company’s gas training course in the North East resettles service veterans, many of whom take on roles at Kier or its supply chain.
Kier’s support and unique involvement with the Armed Forces Employment Pathway (AFEP), a joint DWP and MoD initiative aimed at reducing the number of NEETS while increasing the number of Armed Forces Reserves is an example of the country’s innovative approach. In 2014, Kier supported the first six-week pilot programme, in association with Tyne Met College, taking young, unemployed personnel through industry technical training, CV writing, interview skills and work placements, alongside a week-long ‘Be the Best’ military style boot camp.
The pilot was a success, with 340 young people now in permanent employment. Most recently, the programme has been running in Scotland, where it’s been very well-received, with eight long-term unemployed young people now in permanent employment.
The team at Kier have acted as advocates for the programme, contributing to its design, as well as running and organising many more courses, hosting employer information days and speaking at AFEP visitor events.
As part of the MOD career transition programme, launched by Kier last year in its Western & Wales region, the company held an open day at its site in Beckley Court, Plymouth. The event saw six service leavers offered work experience with Kier, two of whom are now in full-time employment as assistant site managers, and one on a six-month placement as a social impact manager.
The successful initiative will now be rolled out in Truro, Bristol and Cardiff with similar events, providing attendees with a real taster of the industry and a chance to network with site teams. Through these events, Kier aims to introduce Reservists and service leavers to the wide range of roles within the construction industry and the many opportunities for transferring their skills to a new sector.
Becky, submissions coordinator
Before joining Kier, I served in the Royal Marines Band Service, but while undertaking my Junior Command Course I injured my hip. This left me struggling with the physical aspect of military life and meant I had to leave the Armed Forces and adapt to a different way of life.
Through Kier’s relationship with the Royal Marines Charity I was able to secure an interview (my first outside the Armed Forces) and a work placement with Kier, which has introduced me to many non-traditional roles in the construction industry, including corporate responsibility, marketing and PR.
The nature of my role means splitting my time between the office and sites around Devon and Cornwall, and I’m really enjoying the mix of tasks. The skills I learned in the Royal Marines have proven easily transferrable to the construction industry and I’d definitely recommend a work placement to those leaving the Armed Forces; for me, it’s been a great way to transition from the military to civilian employment.
Case study: Dale, assistant site manager
Before joining the military, I worked in the construction industry, starting out as a labourer before completing apprenticeships in plastering and plumbing.
After seven years in the industry, I wanted a change; while a few friends were joining the Army, I wanted to set myself an even harder challenge, so applied to join the Royal Marines. After a gruelling eight months, I passed out of training – one of only 12 of the original 60 recruits to do so.
The next six years saw me train as a sniper and travel the world, including a tour of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, during service I sustained injuries to my knee and shoulder and was unable to regain the high levels of fitness requiraed to continue my career in the Marines, and I was medically discharged from the services.
It was while I was preparing to leave the services that I was given a contact at The Royal Marines Charity, which helps injured Marines find work as a civilian, including help with CVs and the opportunity to meet with potential employers at regular career days.
After a chat with my advisor, who recommended I look into project management, I applied for an ex-Forces placement with Transport for London, where I worked for seven months as a project support officer, learning a lot about project management and getting ready to take the next step in my career.
When my placement ended, I had another talk with my advisor and she put me in touch with the team at Kier to discuss potential opportunities. I was excited at the prospect of returning to the construction industry, and after two interviews, I was offered the position of assistant site manager.
I’m enjoying learning the parallels between site management and project management, and Kier is fully supportive of my career development. My manager makes sure I’m attending the courses I need to develop my skills and that I have the opportunity to work with a range of sites to apply what I’m learning into practical insights.
Looking to the future
The company is now looking at how to build on the success of its ERS Gold award. An armed forces forum, designed to connect Kier’s ex-services employees across the country and communicate the great work its regional businesses are doing to support the armed forces, is in the pipeline, and has been specifically developed to support Kier’s work with the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.
Jim Fernandes, Kier’s defence lead, said: “We want to play our part in supporting the UK’s forces community, and winning ERS Gold is a real testament to the support our regional businesses offer – from fundraising, to employment opportunities, and everything in between.”
“While recognition of our support for the armed forces is welcome, we know there’s more work to do. We’re looking forward to building on our success with many more initiatives, and look forward to welcoming more veterans into our business.”