In a bid to tackle skills shortage in the industry and an ageing workforce, Morgan Lovell and Overbury - the Fit Out division of Morgan Sindall Group - established the Foundation Programme.

Aimed at new joiners with little to no industry or management experience, the Foundation Programme focuses on helping the next generation find its career path and enjoy a long and successful career in construction.

The programme was established to address the ongoing industry skill shortage, but also after Chris Booth, group managing director at Morgan Lovell and Overbury, analysed the demographics of the division's employees back in 2013.

Chris comments: “I realised that we had a real imbalance with an ageing workforce – 45% of our employees were over 45, and only 3% were aged under 24, and although our older employees are highly skilled, it’s important to bring in and nurture young talent for succession.

"As such, I employed a training and development manager to implement a programme to encourage the younger generation into the business. We now have the Foundation Programme in place, and our percentage of employees aged under 24 has risen to 8%, and is continuing to increase.”

The programme has been structured to provide training and workplace experience, introducing participants to 'design and build' and/or traditional fit out projects. 'Foundationers' are offered the chance to work in all aspects of the business, touching on every point of a project’s lifecycle.

The first year of the programme focuses on understanding the sector and business, and developing critical business skills such as communication and problem solving. Year two sees the 'Foundationers' expand their technical knowledge and gain a deeper insight into how Morgan Lovell and Overbury approach delivering a great fit out experience as they move toward a chosen area of specialism. Mentors are on hand to provide advice on all aspects of the job and a ‘buddy’ system is in place for day-to-day support.

Nick Faith, training and development manager for Morgan Lovell and Overbury, comments: “We are looking for better ways to approach the next generation to attract more school leavers and graduates to a career in construction and fit out. We actively pursue this group, rather than waiting for them to come to us. I firmly believe that the best way to do this is by meeting them, inviting them to site to see what we do and offering work experience, internships or industrial placement years to see if the fit is right for both parties. This makes our approach more personal and a lot more targeted.

“Once they’ve joined, the programme acts as a framework that can be tailored to the individual depending on their point of entry. The framework of rotations and continued professional development runs alongside a structured internal two year curriculum. We want those who join the programme to have a long and successful career so it’s important that we give them the opportunities and tools they need to find their path in the business.

“We are delighted with the progress made since the Foundation Programme began and it is great to see our 'Foundationers' working on some of the largest fit out projects in the UK. We see this programme as a strategic step in developing a sustainable talent pipeline, and believe that it provides a strong platform to take advantage of the government’s commitment to encourage a greater uptake of higher and degree level apprenticeships.”

Elaine Mullarkey joins Morgan Lovell's Foundation Programme

Elaine Mullarkey, 24

What attracted you to Morgan Lovell?
On graduation I applied to a variety of psychology-based roles. I found Morgan Lovell by chance but loved the feel of the company throughout the interview process. Within a month I was right in the deep end! I have had real responsibility from the beginning, a lot of my friends are effectively doing administrative roles but here I have been able to get involved in real projects that have a tangible impact on our clients.

Describe a typical day:
A typical day starts at about 8.30am and involves team and client meetings, workshops, putting together presentations and analysing, interpreting and presenting data back to our clients so they can understand the best office design for them. The environment is quite relaxed and the work is extremely interesting. I was recently involved in a ‘visioning’ project in Bristol with a FTSE 250 company who were looking at building an innovation centre. They didn’t know what they wanted so we helped them develop the concept design.

Sharon Juantuah joins Morgan Lovell's Foundation Programme

Sharon Juantuah, 25

What attracted you to Morgan Lovell?
When I graduated from University I did some research online and quickly found Morgan Lovell’s website. I applied for a position within the design team and was invited to an interview at the London office. When I arrived for my interview I loved the feel of the place. The people I met were both professional and friendly. I also liked the idea of being with a medium sized company with the benefits of a large parent company.

Describe a typical day:
Each morning I make myself breakfast, choose the playlist for the team and check my emails for any updates. This allows me to plan the day ahead. My role involves space planning and concept design and I am currently working on my own design projects whilst assisting the design team. Part of my role also involves attending client meetings and managing relationships with our suppliers. I am given freedom and responsibility but at the same time know I am supported by a team who are happy to answer any of my questions. This has helped build my confidence in the workplace