Blog: People Development SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Construct a career (O'Neill & Brennan)

16 June 2020

sponsored by Cheesmur Building Contractors

People Development SECBE Awards 2020 finalist - Construct a career (O'Neill & Brennan)

O'Neill & Brennan believe that 'Construct a Career' provides many benefits on many different levels to different people, as well as the positive impact it has on the industry. 'Construct a Career' tackles some important societal issues, while being first to market and offering something different.

A prevalent problem in the construction industry is a lack of local people employed on projects. Many projects of significant size often employ people that are based outside of the local catchment area, travelling from afar to complete the works. As a result of that, the project becomes far less sustainable, as well as being less eco-friendly. For the local residents, there are obvious frustrations with not being able to work and commute to somewhere in such close proximity. As a result, O'Neill & Brennan's 'Construct a Career course' was designed to provide local employment outcomes on construction projects across the UK. Alongside training partner Cidori, their unique selling point is the ability to run a 2-week training programme next to where projects are planned. This programme, offering residents the opportunity to obtain a ETCAL Level 1 Certificate in Securing Employment with ETCAL Level 1 Certificate of Introduction to Construction, gives them a clearly defined route to employment with the added benefit of having a vacancy ready prepared at the end of it.

Getting this course up and running has taken time and effort. They feel their practical, proactive solution provides answers for employers with Section 106 obligations and CSR targets as well as giving people from all walks of life the chance to receive training that provides practical guidance on job preparation plus a route to gain the CSCS card. The training is delivered free to the trainees through government funding and with an opportunity to work on site in close proximity to where they live.

This can change the industry for the better. The collaborative way that training, recruitment and construction contractors have combined to deliver clear employment outcomes is what sets 'Construct a Career' apart. Currently, the process for unemployed people seeking work in construction is disjointed. But with 'Construct a Career', the loop is closed, with a clearly defined path set out for people to work towards.
In terms of sustainability, it demonstrates they give environmental considerations equal importance to traditional business issues. It supports their commitment to maintaining their Supply Chain Sustainability Partner status by contributing to the wider construction industry - providing local employment opportunities to local residents and delivering tangible socio and economic benefits to local communities.

To date, the course has proven to be successful, with a number of positive outcomes from delivering courses in London and Birmingham. So far there have been 44 courses that have taken place, with 377 people registered and 82 placed into work. They have demonstrated they can fill training course and provide site-ready labour actively seeking employment. With that success, they are now planning to roll out courses nationally, to capitalise on the growing interest amongst main contractors and housebuilders to become involved in 'Construct a Career'.

With growing interest and a commitment from Willmott Dixon, Wates, Murphy’s and Galliford Try to become partners (generating ready-made vacancies for those enrolled on the course), the future for 'Construct a Career' looks very promising.


  • The first and currently only solution in the market that combines training, funding and employment
  • They already have Wates, Galliford Try, L&Q and Willmott Dixon as official supporting partners within a year of operating
  • 'Construct a Career' has delivered over 50,000 hours of entry-level fully funded training to unemployed people across the country in the last 10 months

About the People Development Award: 

People are our greatest asset and this award recognises organisations that appreciate and nurture their workforce to ensure they maximise the value of everyone’s contribution to the business. By creating inclusive workplaces which support people of all abilities through training initiatives, education, mentoring, support networks and innovative programmes, companies can demonstrate a significant impact on the future of their businesses and the wider construction industry.

> Find out more about the other finalists here

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