Addressing industry skills gaps and driving social mobility through inclusive engagement in Bradford
Partnership with Greensville Trust
Morgan Sindall Construction works towards social value and sustainability goals as part of its Responsible Business Plan. Enhancing communities is one of the areas of focus.
In this case study, Sarah Muscas, senior social value manager in Yorkshire & North East business, talks about one of the initiatives they’ve been working on in Bradford to create opportunities.
Our journey started at the end of 2022 with the simple question ‘why are we unable to attract the young South Asian community into construction?' This was something our managing director in the region, Andy Hall wanted to investigate due to the diversity of the area we work in, but we knew we’d need to seek further advice. Because of this, we partnered with Greensville Trust who helped us understand some of the challenges and facilitate various events where we were given access to the heart of the Muslim community they are a part of, to promote our fantastic industry.'
About Greensville Trust
Greensville Trust is a well-established and highly regarded charity that provides a range of faith-based educational courses, classes, sport, recreational and community development activities.
The Trust has historically operated from its own premises in Liverpool, from where it runs a nursery as well as educational, social and leisure courses and activities. For a number of years, it has also run residential courses from sites in Wales and Turkey.
In 2021, the Trust acquired the Heaton Mount and Emm Lane Campus which had previously functioned as the home of the University of Bradford’s School of Management.
The Trust has developed an exciting and ambitious vision for the site which will allow them to deliver more activity in the areas in which they already operate, particularly around adult and child education, individual and community development and wellbeing. In addition to this, the site presents a significant opportunity for the Trust to expand its operations and to work with a much broader stakeholder group from across the private, public, voluntary, community and faith sectors.
The Trust worked with our team in Yorkshire to help with increasing diversity within recruitment and to develop our overall Instinctively Inclusive offer.
Activities the team undertook as part of the partnership
Step 1: Recruitment evening at Emm Lane Campus
The collaboration has been very successful and in December 2022, the Trust facilitated a Morgan Sindall recruitment evening at its headquarters at Emm Lane Campus in Bradford. As part of the event potential new recruits and their family members were able to meet our senior team and explore the various careers options to understand a little more about the professions on offer in the construction world.
We were taken aback by the difficulty people we met were having with applications given their skill sets and qualifications. One candidate was a civil engineering graduate, and he was struggling to get interviews.
As part of the event we agreed to take five people through a Placement Programme with us that could potentially result in full time employment.'
Step 2: Morgan Sindall Construction Placements
Following the inclusive recruitment process the team offered five new six-month placements. Four of the candidates started in February 2023 and one started in June 2023 following completion of their foundation year.
The placements included a rotation across key disciplines to give the broadest possible development:
- site management
- health & safety
An assessment after the six months helped each candidate to decide the right career path. Sarah Muscas, senior social value manager for Morgan Sindall Construction said:
We knew we needed some specialist expertise to help us on our journey. So we worked closely with an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) consultant from the Trust, and they provided employment support, and mentoring for both the candidates and the Morgan Sindall team throughout the placements.
Through conversations and workshops we have been able to understand things that were getting in the way of us attracting the community to apply for a role in the construction industry. This included the lack of diversity, with under representation from the Muslim community within the industry leaving many young people with the feeling that construction careers are not available to them.
We were able to speak about the range of careers available and answer any questions. We have been able to share with them the variety of opportunities in management, design, and surveying.
In turn we have been able to change the perception about construction as a supportive environment for the families we met through the Trust. We have begun a journey to change our practices and the perception about the construction industry. Working with the Trust we not only engaged with potential candidates but also family members and the broader community.
It has been extremely educational working closely with Greensville Trust to learn more about the South Asian community in Bradford. By working with the Trust we have been able to understand how the construction industry is viewed within this community and educate people on opportunities they didn’t know were out there.
We have also learnt about how we could do things differently, part of this includes a refresher course on Equality and Inclusion, as well as a review of policies, procedures and practices.'
Amer Siddiq Chairman of Greensville Trust said,
Time and time again we hear from young people struggling to find suitable employment, many of these have graduated from university and are unable to gain employment in their chosen career.
At times this is due to barriers within recruitment practices, and/or perceptions of industries. We were delighted to work with Morgan Sindall Construction where we were able to see things from all perspectives and then work in new ways.
This has led to successful employment and development opportunities for some exceptional young people, who were engaged in employment way below their capability and potential. We hope to build on this work to unlock the potential of some of our most disadvantaged communities.”
Two of the five applicants were Hamza Ali, Trainee Design Manager and Abuzar Muhammed, Trainee Planner. For South Asian Heritage Month they shared their stories on the Leeds College of Building’s website.
To attract more individuals from a South Asian Heritage into Morgan Sindall, we need to keep working with organisations like the Greensville Trust and show there is interest from construction in attracting Muslims and people of South Asian heritage to work in the sector.” Hamza Ali, Trainee Design Manager
Since joining Morgan Sindall, I’ve seen things are different than I expected. There are a lot more women working on sites, which is a good thing. When I first joined, I was one of the only people of an Asian background in the office and I had never been in that situation before. However, everyone’s been brilliant and made me feel at home since I started work here.” Abuzar Muhammed, Trainee Planner
Sarah was excited about the next phase of the plans for the partnership.
“We are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Greensville Trust and Bradford Council.
We have plans to set up a Knowledge Quad - our multi-purpose training and learning facility located within a live Morgan Sindall Construction site - in the listed building at Emm Lane Campus.
This will provide a variety of opportunities for engagement and learning, and we hope to include workshops for the community as well. It's an opportunity to give better visibility of the construction industry to an audience that potentially aren’t aware of the variety of opportunities available, and make opportunities accessible to their community."
There is an industry-wide challenge to attract young people from underrepresented communities into construction and we want to harness the contacts and learning we’ve gained from the group to make a difference. Together we can inform, facilitate, collaborate, drive and thrive.
Pictured: Just some of the examples of a Knowledge Quad in Salford, as well as careers and learning events that take place throughout the year, and the Emm Lane Campus building