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Training Excellence: Winner

Winner: GKR Scaffolding

In a closely fought category, GKR Scaffolding was declared the winner after impressing the judges with its passion and commitment to training.

The London-based scaffolding firm, which has ambitions to be one of the UK’s leading scaffolding specialists, has worked on a string of prestigious jobs in the last 12 months, including Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

The firm employs around 300 people and our judges were particularly impressed by the low level of turnover in its workforce. “A staff turnover of less than 5 per cent is incredibly impressive for any construction firm, never mind a subcontractor,” the judges said.

The company sets out its training vision: to make employees feel valued and worthwhile to the business, while upskilling its workforce and innovating to improve performance.

There are currently 35 apprentices at the firm – more than 10 per cent of the entire workforce – and each of them are mentored from the moment they join. GKR took on 25 new apprentices in 2016 alone.

In a 2014 internal survey, the firm found that 90 per cent of its staff saw their role as a job, rather than a career, which owner Lee Rowswell says inspired a change in its approach to training.

“GKR is using training and development to change the perception of a whole industry – an approach that makes its people feel more valued”

Judges’ comment

GKR launched its own training academy the same year – a first for the scaffolding industry – and created a tailored, 10-module course for scaffolders in collaboration with the Institute of Leadership & Management.

The judges said this exemplified the firm’s proactive approach towards training, helping to shift perceptions among employees “from having a job to having a career, and the industry from a subcontractor to a professional supplier.”

GKR also impressed the panel with a proactive approach to health and safety. The firm has invested in its own occupational health programme, has reduced working at height through innovative design, and uses visual health and safety standards beyond the industry requirement.

Training on working at height extends beyond the firm’s own employees, with GKR working closely with its clients to ensure working at height is done safely and efficiently.

The firm has also invested £150,000 in training software to help keep all of its employees ahead of the curve in both health and safety and career development training.

“GKR is using training and development to change the perception of a whole industry – this approach from Mr Rowswell makes his people feel more valued and makes the industry value them more,” concluded the judges.

Highly commended: O’Donovan Waste Disposal

O’Donovan Waste Disposal was unlucky to lose out on the top spot after owner Jacqueline O’Donovan impressed the judges with her drive and enthusiasm for training.

The firm was founded in 1959 and is one of London’s largest waste disposal firms. Its training initiatives have resulted in impressive improvements to fleet safety, with accidents down by 25 per cent, and to sustainbility, with CO2 per kilometre reduced by 21.5 per cent due to safer driving.


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  • Spie

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