Calderdale is going through a period of major transformation, with unprecedented investment opportunities in the borough. However, the Council has struggled in recent years to recruit staff with the required skills to deliver these major projects, particularly within the regeneration, construction and civil engineering disciplines.
To address this, the Council launched the ‘Grow Our Own’ programme – a talent pool to support the Council in the delivery of Calderdale’s Next Chapter, a portfolio of transformational regeneration projects.
In September 2018, five Council employees from a variety of backgrounds joined the programme to develop their skills and support the projects, whilst learning from experienced mentors. The team take a day a week to study project management, whilst applying their new skills to their roles at the Council.
The programme also ensures that it is encouraging gender diversity in the industry. Recent statistics from Engineering UK show that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10%, but four out of the five recruits to the Grow Our Own programme are female.
The initial group will finish their apprenticeship in March 2020, when they will have achieved an Association for Project Management (APM) Level 4, Associate Project Management qualification. This will give them the knowledge and experience needed to pursue a career in project management.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Resources, Cllr Jane Scullion, said:
“Calderdale Council might be one of the smallest authorities in West Yorkshire, but we have never shied away from doing big things.
“As we continue to design and deliver the many major regeneration projects as part of Calderdale’s Next Chapter work, it’s important we have the staff with the knowledge and capabilities to make these schemes a successful reality.
“The Grow Our Own programme is a chance to develop our staff, streamlining our recruitment process and ensuring we can make the most of the many investment opportunities available to Calderdale at this exciting time.”
Two members of the Grow Our Own team have already been successful in moving into project management roles. One of these success stories is Hollie Good, who moved from her role as Retail and Market Towns Officer to become Project Manager for the South East Calderdale regeneration programme. Hollie said of the project:
“I began the Grow Our Own training with a minimal amount of project management experience. Since taking part in the programme I’ve learnt so much about the principles of project management. This has included learning about different methods of construction and the importance of health and safety on site. I’ve also been able to witness first-hand how this knowledge is put into practice with regular visits to the Northgate House site.”
Soraya Marsden, who has moved from Project Assistant for the Transport Fund to Assistant Project Manager for the South East Calderdale regeneration programme, said of the project:
“The apprenticeship has provided me with an insight into project management via a structured syllabus. Being able to apply learning in a practical way within the Major Projects team has given me pertinent experience that gave me the confidence to pursue this new role.”