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Sir Robert McAlpine joins Land Secs on youth plan

The UK’s largest commercial developer has launched an initiative to get unemployed people back into work, advising contractors to comply with the scheme if they want to win work.

Sir Robert McAlpine has teamed up with Land Securities for the pilot of the developer’s London employment strategy, where construction jobs will be ringfenced for young people, the unemployed and ex-offenders across its £5.27 billion portfolio.

Mace, Wates and Bouygues UK have also thrown their weight behind the strategy.

Land Securities’ scheme suggests that clients are pushing for social responsibility in their building contracts.

The pilot with Sir Robert McAlpine at 62 Buckingham Gate, Victoria, trained 51 local people, while the next phase includes 100 jobs at the 160 m tower at 20 Fenchurch Street, known as the Walkie Talkie.

Senior members of both firms spoke exclusively to CN this week about the initiative, launched on Tuesday with London’s deputy mayor Richard Barnes.

Managing director of Land Securities’ London portfolio Robert Noel said: “Land Securities means business and we are the largest private sector developer in the UK - and if we say to contractors ‘if you want to build for us, you have got to play the game’, then it will make a difference.”

He added: “It’s about making sure we, in the construction industry, are supporting these communities.

“Land Securities will provide an apprentice on every scheme, and unless [contractors] do that, [they] will not be on our tender list.”

Mr Noel said his company is determined to see communities help build their local projects so they are “part and parcel of the community they occupy, rather than being islands within them”. He said that these values will be driven “right through the supply chain”.

Tony Aikenhead, director of operations at Sir Robert McAlpine and the man who led Team Stadium for the 2012 Olympics, said corporate social responsibility is taken into account by a number of clients, but that Land Securities is “taking these things more seriously”.

He told CN: “We have adopted this approach for quite some time, but the difference here is that when initiatives like these are supported by very large professional clients, the momentum is much greater than it would be if it were just Sir Robert McAlpine.”

He added: “We have just come off the Olympics, which is a typical example of a large client boosting the momentum.

“We did a lot of work in this field in Streatham and east London, which was very successful. But to have a private sector company like Land Securities coming into the fray, just adds that extra dimension.”

Mr Aikenhead said there is already an “enthusiastic” supply chain where these considerations are “fully integrated into our business”.

Asked if this is a call to the industry, Mr Noel said the scheme is “common sense” and that if they can demonstrate to the world that it can change lives, then “everyone should follow”.

Wates chief executive Paul Drechsler told CN that this type of initiative is a “vital priority” for his company, while the industry already has a strong commitment to “giving back to communities”.

“All companies do something to differing degrees and in different ways, and as an industry I think it has a huge amount to be proud of in this respect”.

Mr Drechsler said the significance of CSR varies from client to client in the private and public sectors, and that while some councils have it as an “absolute priority”, others “don’t put the same sort of effort into it”.


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