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UK construction sector firm Morris & Spottiswood reports apprenticeship surge

UK construction sector firm Morris & Spottiswood is reporting a surge in apprenticeships after taking on eight new starters in 2018 and growing the division by 25pc.
The fit-out, housing, M&E (Mechanical & Electrical) and Facilities Management (FM) specialist is now training a total of 39 apprentices across offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Warrington and Leeds.
An additional 11 employees have either recently graduated or are working in trainee roles while undertaking vocational college courses.
Morris & Spottiswood human resources director Allan Boyd said the latest figures demonstrate the company’s firm commitment to skills development and training.
“Our apprenticeship scheme is flourishing alongside our graduate training initiative which began in 2016,” he said. “Due to the success of the scheme we have recruited an average of eight new apprentices each consecutive year since 2014. It is geared towards training in core skills and sectors, while our graduate programme has been developed to expose recruits to many different disciplines for a well-rounded experience.
“The apprentice expansion comes at a time when the UK construction sector faces significant challenges in terms of knowledge transfer and skill development. This is largely linked to the 2007 recession, which decimated workforces and led to a slump in skills training. It is a legacy which the UK construction industry is still struggling to recover from. There is also the added complication of an aging workforce, with staff aged 60-plus increasing, and diminished numbers of those aged 30 and under.
“This national backdrop has forced firms to be innovative. Companies like Morris & Spottiswood have had to adapt and become more efficient to succeed, in areas like attracting school and college leavers with well-structured, professional training and development packages.”
Morris & Spottiswood’s current workforce stands at 392 rising from 365 in 2015. The firm works across many sectors including education, retail, financial, housing, leisure, health and commercial markets. Turnover currently stands at £80million and is expected to break the £100million barrier within the next 12 months, with a wider 10-year growth plan to double turnover by 2028.
Mr Boyd said key future recruitment areas are likely to include project managers, quantity surveyors, trade-based roles, contracts managers, administrators and estimators, site managers, multi-skilled technicians, flooring supervisors and contracts administrators
“The company is in the process of developing a 10-year growth plan, with a focus on sectors that our market intelligence has identified as being suitable for development,” he said. “This will undoubtedly create the need for more employees, but with skills and experience particularly suited to projects in these sectors.
“As part of our growth strategy we are aiming for around 70pc of senior managers to have been appointed from within the business, as we continue to invest significantly in management development. We are continuing to work on programmes with Napier University and Scottish Enterprise, with a total of 17 participants over the past five years. Our involvement with Salford University has also expanded. This includes a new Directors’ Strategic Development Programme accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. A total of 12 of the company’s most senior personnel are taking part in this programme.
“We have a real passion for creating pathways and driving career development at Morris & Spottiswood. We understand that our team is the backbone of this business and in order to achieve our ambitious 10-year growth plan we need to invest heavily from top to bottom to have the necessary skill and competence.”


Equipment considerations for different applications

National Flooring Equipment releases surface preparation whitepaper
Surface preparation equipment manufacturer National Flooring Equipment has released a whitepaper to help contractors successfully prepare for multiple floor renovation applications. Equipment considerations for different applications is available to download free of charge from the company’s website —
The paper, produced by Scot Coffey, territorial sales manager; Tom Dunn, director of major accounts; and Dave Bigham, director of national accounts, explains the main factors contractors need to consider when completing surface preparation in different applications, including equipment choice, safety considerations and working spaces.
“Every floor renovation requires different equipment and different considerations — there is no one size fits all in surface preparation,” explains Bigham. “National Flooring Equipment has manufactured bespoke equipment for over 50 years to ensure contractors have the right equipment, no matter what the job.
“In the whitepaper, we also advise contractors on how to get the desired finish and how to complete the work safely and efficiently. This whitepaper explains the main considerations for contractors when they start a new floor renovation, from what to look for when surveying the site, to how to reduce dust exposure when completing work.”
The whitepaper focusses on three main types of facility including residential, commercial and industrial. Each facility has different requirements for the floor because of its infrastructure, the equipment used in the facility and the amount of people in the facility at any time.
The company is also celebrating 50 years of manufacturing surface-preparation machines in the US. The company has grown significantly and now has representatives in the UK and Europe to help contractors across the world. The team has used its years of expertise in flooring to manufacture equipment that stands the test of time and meets safety regulations to help contractors improve productivity and achieve the desired finish for every application.
The paper, which is available to download free of charge here, will share some of the company’s expertise in how to overcome challenges in different floor renovation applications. It is this expert knowledge that has established National Flooring Equipment as an industry leader and allowed it to manufacture excellence for the past 50 years


ThirdWay pioneers new Cat A+ commercial fit out concept

A new concept in design & build, coined ‘CAT A+’, is being pioneered’ by commercial property designers and specialists, The ThirdWay Group. Since its conception, the model has been implemented on a number of projects in London to appeal to tenants who wish for the flexibility of a co-working office but within their own private space.
One such project is a prototype ‘plug and play’ workspace at Chiswick Park, a 1.8 million sq ft business campus located in West London, W4. Designed specifically for occupiers, the ‘Your Space’ concept offers hassle-free flexibility for small businesses. The 13,864 sq ft commercial suite was designed with the objective of bridging the gap in the market between conventional commercial office lettings and the ‘co-working’ phenomenon; creating a stylishly designed, fully finished, unbranded space for the landlord to market to a broad audience of both traditional and creative prospective occupiers. Following successful launch, the Thirdway Group has gone on to design and implement four further projects with the client.
ThirdWay designer Charlotte Toon explains “The design brief for Chiswick Park was to include two distinct environments. One side is a more conventional office that follows the standard foundation of a raised floor and a suspended ceiling, static desks and a monochrome colour scheme albeit still a fresh and contemporary commercial design. The other side is stripped back with exposed ductwork, raw timber features and a more eclectic approach to colour, furnishings and break-out spaces. The furniture and joinery elements were sourced through Tribe, ThirdWay’s furniture solutions company. Raw finishes and statement mid-century furnishings give the more creative side of the space an industrial, New York loft style appeal; while the more corporate side includes sleek finishes and clean lines to give the space a slick and professional feel.”
“This move to offer a white-label space including all furnishings, data, fibre and cabling provides an alternative solution to businesses that may not have the budget for a high-tech office renovation project of their own, and for whom co-working may previously have been the only option. Not only do they have the luxury of a brand-new environment without having to invest in its design and build, but they don’t have to share common areas with multiple companies, which is a deal-breaker for many businesses.”
Another ThirdWay Group client that has been embracing the CAT A+ trend is Fund Manager, Columbia Threadneedle Investments. The first floor of its office building on Copthall Avenue was leased to a new occupier immediately after the installation of ThirdWay’s CAT A+ design. Following on from this success, Columbia Threadneedle Investments are now looking to apply the CAT A+ concept elsewhere across their portfolio.
David Dalrymple, Asset Manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments comments:
“It’s an interesting leasing market at the moment given the growth of the serviced office sector. Within some of our smaller buildings we are now attracting tenants who are seeking independence and more identity as their businesses mature; as such they’re actually wanting to move away from co-working and traditional serviced offices into their own space.
However, often, they are not in the position to fund a refurbishment or simply do not want the hassle of designing and managing their own fit-out, so we are well positioned in offering our Cat A+ turn-key solution. Our tenants benefit from the plug and play setup that a co-working space could have provided but they don’t have to share their meeting rooms, breakouts or front door with anyone else.”

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