The Garenne Construction Group (GCG) consists of 13 trading companies across Jersey, Guernsey, and the UK. Marc Burton, CEO responsible for ten trading construction companies across the Channel Islands, has been involved with developing and promoting careers through his involvement with the Jersey Construction Council (JeCC) for over ten years.
The construction industry has always been seen in Jersey as the industry for the unskilled and less educated and being male-dominated. Led by Marc, the GCG Strategy has been to holistically grow skills and enhance the pipeline of talent to provide greater on-island skills for the future whilst addressing industry and community issues.
There is currently around 10% of the working population employed within construction in Jersey. With the Government looking to invest in significant infrastructure projects including a new Island hospital, social housing, redevelopment of the Ports, there is going to be a huge opportunity for a career in construction.
During his time on the JeCC Education Sub-Committee, Marc had been responsible for producing a Construction Skills Strategy where one of the prime objectives was to promote careers in construction in local schools.
In 2017, whilst working on the tender for the new hospital with UK partner Sir Robert McAlpine, Marc met Alison Watson. Alison had been developing the Design, Engineer Construct! (DEC) Learning Programme which seemed to be the perfect model that would fit, particularly through GCG adopting a school.
Through GCG’s ongoing relationship with the Government’s Education Department, Marc developed the idea with Skills Jersey and agreed that the GCG would Adopt a School to trial a pilot DEC programme.
The key to the programme was the involvement of GCG’s staff participating in lessons and ensuring students have opportunities to experience practical application of classroom learning.
AEC Social Value results
The DEC programme has been a success. Levels 1 and 2 are recognised as a GCSE equivalent, the first-ever vocational course to get on the GoJ curriculum, and Level 3 an A-Level equivalent.
There are 388 students studying DEC across five of the nine secondary schools in Jersey, with Highlands College offering Level 3 from September 2021. DEC has led to the “earn whilst you learn” pathway to study on-Island.
In conjunction with Le Rocquier and Skills Jersey, GCG produced the video in this case study, which provides evidence of the success of the staff and pupils at the school.
The DEC programme works alongside several initiatives that GCG offer including:
- Graduate schemes
- Apprenticeship schemes
- Mentoring schemes
- Investing in staff through sponsoring further education
- Careers fairs
- Enhanced policies and procedures around mental health, diversity, inclusion, and career pathways to ensure they promote continuous improvement throughout the Group
- Ongoing Health and Safety initiatives through education
GCG are proud of all their initiatives to encourage young people to consider a career in construction. The perception is changing, particularly through the partnership with Government bodies which continues to shape the pathway to Construction.
GCG are investing in their people of the future as they believe there will be significant opportunities in the next 5-10 years, and they want to ensure they continue to employ locally. The war on talent and the traditional skills gap is being addressed strategically to enable them to fulfil the requirements of the island plan and they continue to change the perception of working in the industry to become inclusive, diverse, and rewarding.
The DEC programme has grown significantly from being a single pilot school in September 2018. Now five out of nine of the secondary schools in Jersey are offering Level 1 and 2 DEC programmes with Level 3 being offered at Highlands, their Higher Education Centre, from this year.
The achievement is best summed up by David Roworth – Director, Digital, Vocational & Technical Skills for Skills Jersey describes the partnership formed
“as positive which continues to inspire our school children to develop skills and understanding for a career in this industry. Bringing together specialist professionals who willingly give their time and resources to work alongside teachers. It allows learners to connect their classroom curriculum studies to practical application with real-life projects in their community, and to see that there are so many opportunities to be a future specialist in the built environment industry.”
They have around 150 different roles within GCG from the traditional trades – plumber, electrician, engineers and stonemasons – to BIM programmers and CAD designers. From the on-site trades to office-based accountants, HR specialists and marketers, they have been working hard to ensure they can provide meaningful careers and progression opportunities.
They will continue to have many worthwhile jobs, which can provide job security and satisfaction, but they are mindful that they need to excite future generations about the industry. As technology continues to develop, it will bring more innovative techniques and materials to ensure that buildings are smarter, more sustainable, and more efficient whilst making the industry a safe and exciting place to work.
Constructing Excellence Awards Recognition
In 2021, GCG were finalists in the People Development SECBE Award category
About the People Development Award:
People are our greatest asset and this award recognises organisations that appreciate and nurture their workforce to ensure they maximise the value of everyone’s contribution to the business. By creating inclusive workplaces which support people of all abilities through training initiatives, education, mentoring, support networks and innovative programmes, companies can demonstrate a significant impact on the future of their businesses and the wider construction industry.