Putting skills building blocks in place

ONE of the North East’s leading civil engineering firms is playing its role in filling the region’s skills gap.

ONE of the North East’s leading civil engineering firms is playing its role in filling the region’s skills gap.

The Owen Pugh Group is one of the most successful construction businesses in the North East and employs over 300 staff across five sites. The company has long recognised the importance of developing a skilled workforce and is committed to giving young people pathways into careers in its sector. This commitment manifests itself in many ways. From apprenticeships and outreach work with disadvantaged young people, to a dedicated training division and continuous personal development programmes at every level of the organisation, Owen Pugh is passionate about creating a fully skilled workforce.

Owen Pugh Training Services (OPTS) is a division that was set up precisely to help build construction skills in the North East workforce. OPTS delivers comprehensive training programmes to independent companies, local authorities, individuals and the group’s own staff. Hundreds of people each year benefit from the accredited courses designed to ensure that the North East construction industry has a ready and motivated workforce.

The team at Owen Pugh is also identifying key skill gaps in the region and proactively working on ways to fill those. For example, the North East has a shortage of skilled plant operators, so Owen Pugh Training Services will soon be launching its Advanced Plant Operator Skills course. The group also does a lot to reach out to young people who are not in employment, education or training. For several years, Owen Pugh has been working with the Phoenix Detached Youth Project in North Tyneside. Not only does the group provide vital funds to support Phoenix, it also plays a practical role in helping the young people involved to raise their aspirations and equip themselves for work. Owen Pugh recently employed a young person from Phoenix in its head office in Dudley, where she is thriving.

John Dickson, chairman of the Owen Pugh Group, said: “In these challenging times, there is a danger that companies batten down the hatches and reduce investment in workforce development. That attitude is short-sighted and will ultimately damage the potential of the North East economy. We need to make sure this region has a skilled workforce that is ready for when the upturn comes. In the construction sector, the Owen Pugh Group is working hard to fill the skills gap in every area – professional, craft and operative. We intend to stay at the forefront of skills development in this region.”

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