Costain managers go back on the tools

18 June 2010

Costain is providing its new managers with hands-on experience of working in the building trades, according to news website Construction Enquirer.

The firm is concerned that many engineers and supervisors reaching management level today make their careers in the industry with little or no first hand experience of quality workmanship.

To tackle the growing knowledge gap, Costain is sending new managers from its business and supply chain on an innovative course devised by the National Construction College, run by CITB ConstructionSkills at Bircham Newton in Norfolk.

The two-year programme of short training courses gives graduate trainees, site managers and package managers a chance to brush up on a variety of trades, and help them to appreciate  the physical, logistical and workplace environment of the trade operatives.

Bill Hewlett, technical director at Costain, said the course would improve technical knowledge and ensure managers are qualified to inspect work in progress correctly.

“Due to the changing nature of contracting there are less people coming up through the trades,” he said. “We know that in time this may result in a loss of integral knowledge flowing through to supervisory and management staff.

“Great managers with a thorough skills background have been a hallmark of the Costain offering. We want to retain this so we are acting now to keep ahead.” 

Hewlett added that the training was already having a positive effect on managers and on  performance. “Since the introduction of the training we are already seeing measurable effect from its implementation giving us greater productivity,” he said.

Neil England, commercial manager at the NCC, said he hoped other firms would follow Costain’s lead.

“Costain has been at the forefront of identifying the quality issues that we face in the construction industry and, most significantly, is doing something about it.

“This bespoke service is one which we want to develop with other organisations who wish to ‘train out’ costly gaps in knowledge,” he said.


The days of working through trades to management have diminished over the years, producing a poor end product. Has the industry reduced its standard to reflect the reducing numbers of qualified trades people at all levels?

GJ., 23 August 2010

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