On Thursday, the industry comes together to celebrate achievement at the annual Construction News Awards. Our work has been recognised in a number of categories, including a shortlisting for Aberdeen Music Hall and our national Shaping Your World careers initiative in the ‘Community Engagement Project of The Year’ category. Here, Amanda Wright, Social Impact Manager for Kier Regional Building - Scotland & North East reveals more about our time working on this fantastic project and the impact it’s had on the local community.
“Aberdeen Music Hall is a national treasure, steeped in history and serving the local community since 1859. In 2016 we were appointed to carry out a £7m refurbishment project, updating the venue to meet modern needs.
Given its city centre location and focal point amongst the residents, community engagement was at the was at the heart of everything we did. Secondly, we saw an opportunity to utilise our national Shaping Your World careers engagement programme to showcase the varied range of careers within the construction industry.
The project incorporated a two-year programme of works, completing in November 2018 ahead of a crucial deadline to be open for the Christmas schedule. Despite the complex restoration and renovation requirements, the team were able to achieve 60% SME local labour spend, directly creating 20 new jobs as well as employment opportunities within the supply chain. Achieving high levels of local spend was key at a time when unemployment rates were rising (source: Office for National Statistics, February 2018).
Additionally, the project delivery came at a time of downturn within the global oil and gas industry. Given how synonymous Aberdeen is with oil and gas, it is common to aspire to work in this sector without exploring adjacent industries such as construction. Given this downturn and with local people looking at alternative career paths, we saw an opportunity to make a difference.
Working closely with Job Centre Plus, Robert Gordon University and other education institutions, a full engagement plan was implemented. Overall, over 250 university and college students were engaged throughout the project, this included 26 apprenticeships, including two at graduate level.
Further local initiatives included supporting Social Bite, a local social enterprise enabling the employment of people affected by homelessness, and finally over £7000 was raised for charity throughout the project as well as Christmas and Easter toy collections.
A key part of our local engagement has been how we have interacted with young people, with some of this being through our national Shaping Your World campaign. Launched in 2017 to inspire young people to understand the wealth of opportunity in the construction industry, we pledged 1% of our workforce as Kier Career Ambassadors who will work with schools and colleges for a minimum of a day a year. Furthermore, interactive plaques were installed at many of our projects to allow young people to understand more about the building and the job roles that were involved.
Since launch, we have engaged with 28,000 students nationally, committed 490 Kier Ambassadors and delivered 178 work experience places. In Aberdeen, through the project we engaged with over 500 school pupils and the interactive Shaping Your World plaque at the music hall has had over 600 interactions so far.
After two years of extensive redevelopment, the music hall re-opened its doors to the general public on the 7th December 2018, with Travis frontman Fran Healy and the Music Hall community choir providing entertainment. Furthermore, members of the public were able to take part in free tours as we worked collaboratively with our client to showcase the newly renovated building and its first-class facilities.
We are proud of the social value and community engagement we were able to deliver to the people of Aberdeen and look forward to the awards ceremony on Thursday.”