The UK is currently in a period of immense uncertainty due to Brexit and a number of high-profile companies announcing that they will be either moving their manufacturing plants overseas or reducing the size of their operations, resulting in a large number of redundancies. Moreover, in order for the transport and construction sectors to deliver on over £60 billion pounds worth of key investment programmes over the course of the next 10 years, including HS2, extensions to the West Midlands Metro and Commonwealth Games, an urgent strategy is needed to prevent skills shortages and an aging workforce from delaying delivery as these schemes will put increasing demand and pressure on the limited workforce currently available, many of whom are due to retire soon, potentially leading to stagnated industry growth and hampering the UK’s competitive position after Brexit on the global stage.
The skills shortage is partly due to the reduction of engineering functions and complex projects which are using new technologies and processes which require skills and experience which is often in short supply. There is no easy short-term solution, but in the long term the key issue that needs to be addressed is the sectors poor image due to a lack diversity and investment in workforce welfare. Furthermore, young people moving through the education system are currently not encouraged to follow vocational routes that historically supplied the young engineering talent, resulting in the government reaffirming its commitment to new T-levels and apprenticeships.
Auctus Management Group (AMG) Ltd, and its subsidiary companies RSS Infrastructure (RSSI) Ltd and INFRA Skills Ltd, has won a number of accolades for its long-standing history of working to improve working conditions and reducing the skills shortage through its partnerships with local agencies, colleges, charities and government departments to help those with disabilities and individuals struggling to find employment by reducing the number of barriers facing them whilst trying to gain employment. Moreover, the company has been assisting those that have recently been made redundant and supporting members of the Armed Forces community by equipping them with both the skills and knowledge required to work within the infrastructure sector as well as how to conduct themselves safely when onsite, which in turn, is helping to reduce the skills shortage.
The company has also developed the UK’s first level 3 in Rail Apprenticeship Standard, in conjunction with Colas Rail. This bespoke apprenticeship provides young learners with a route into the rail sector and that hones their scientific, technical, engineering, mathematical and design skillsets. The Rail Apprenticeships have been designed to be flexible and focussed on both the sectors requirements today as well as in the future by delivering courses that cover Plain Line, Signalling, Rolling Stock and Overhead Line Electrification.
The success of these programmes is testament to the quality of courses and services that the organisation provides and has meant that the organisation has needed to relocate to new 10,000 SQ ft premises in the heart of the West Midlands at The Tech Block, Gee Business Centre, Holborn Hill, Aston, Birmingham, B7 5JR. On the 7th February 2018 the company held an open day where visitors could discover first-hand how RSSI is helping to ensure these key infrastructure projects are delivered safely whilst ensuring high levels of efficiency and productivity. This core principle has been the cornerstone of the business since 2012, when the company became a subsidiary of Auctus Management Group Limited, and led to the strategic development of a comprehensive service portfolio that includes; Overhead Line Electrification, Vegetation Management, Road Rail Access Points and Level Crossings, Civils/Construction solutions, Safety Critical Resource Services, Magnetic Safety Barrier Fencing, Protocol Points Boards, Signalling Services as well as being the UK’s sole provider of Track Warning Systems.
The decision to remain in the area centred around the organisation’s commitment to the government’s strategy for the Midlands to become a ‘growth engine’ through an investment in skills. INFRA Skills has been instrumental to this by delivering a range of services covering safety, people solutions, training and community engagement throughout the sector. To this end, the company has focused on creating a course catalogue that includes; CITB, Rail Apprenticeships, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Training, Highfield qualifications up to level 5, Mental Health Training, NPTC (Rail Specific), Health and Safety, National Skills Academy (Network Rail approved) competency training and assessments, for which the company has achieved a Gold Standard.
The company also welcomed Andy Street, Mayor for the West Midlands, to open the new premises and was also joined by a number of key partners including; the mental health charity MIND, Bodyguard Workwear, Midland Metro Alliance and TPA. The company also included demonstrations from each division and the event also coincides with ‘Time to Talk,’ an initiative designed to encourage positive mental health, and the company will be integrating a breakout area throughout the event for people to discuss any issues as well as unveiling a new interactive boardgame used to break down barriers surrounding discrimination and equality.
Commenting about the move, Richard Toy, CEO of Auctus Management Group Ltd said
“This move represents an exciting new development for AMG and reinforces the fact that if the Midlands is to continue to stay a serious competitor to the other UK ‘powerhouses,’ and meet productivity and efficiency targets, then businesses in the region need to develop new innovative ways of thinking that can ensure regional and national projects are delivered on time and to budget.”
“We have now reached a milestone of over 100 employees and our success is testament to our commitment to investing in local talent, new state-of-the-art technology and providing our customers with one complete solution. These new offices will provide us with the space we need to accommodate our growing team of experts to better support our clients as we move to develop new partnerships within the next control period.”