£160M Highways contract extension backed by careers college
Kier Group plc, the leading property, residential, construction and services group, has been awarded a four-year extension to their Highways Maintenance Contract with Surrey County Council, which initially commenced in 2011.
The contract will deliver a package of £160M road maintenance services, known as Operation Horizon – the contract is designed to make roads pothole proof as well as saving taxpayers millions of pounds through smarter working.
Extending the contract until 2021, the scope of the works includes highways maintenance and improvements, and reflects the strength of Kier’s highways capabilities following acquisition of Mouchel. The original contract was awarded to May Gurney and transferred to Kier when it acquired the company in 2013.
As part of the contract, Kier will develop careers college, which will train their own highways workforce. During the initial contract, the Company has found the need to bus in staff from as far afield as Kent and Hampshire, due to the skills shortage that is prevalent at the moment.
The training centre is key to the extension of the contract, which will also feature a scheme to give young people classes as NEET – not in education, employment or training – a leg up on the career ladder.
The centre will also encourage former members of the Armed Forces together with people with mental health problems and learning, to join the course which will equip recruits with the skills needed to earn an apprenticeship with either Kier or the council.
Discussions are underway with the Department for Education to decide whether establishing an academy, university technical college or links with a further education college is the best option for training young people from Surrey and beyond.
Haydn Mursell, Kier's Chief Executive, commented: "Kier has forged a strong working relationship with Surrey Country Council over the past five years. This contract reinforces Kier's presence in the local authority market and further demonstrates the benefits of recent acquisitions, which have strengthened the Group's highways services and maintenance offering and helped to establish Kier as the market leader in this sector.
“These awards further underpin the strength of the combined Construction and Services order book which currently stands at approximately £9Bn."
Surrey County Council’s Cabinet for Highways John Furey said: “Kier is doing a really good job on our Operation Horizon project to completely overhaul more than 300 miles of Surrey’s roads and this extension will build on that.
“Not only will it create jobs and opportunities for local people, it will also equip Surrey with the expertise to improve our highways and drive forward the county’s powerhouse economy for years to come.
“On top of that, it will also mean giving some of our most vulnerable residents a leg up on the career ladder while benefitting highways services across the region too.”
Nigel Dyer, Managing Director for Kier Highways in Surrey, said: “The contract extension for Kier delivers value for money and long-term benefits for Surrey – investing in young people and realising the untapped assets in Surrey’s communities.
“We are looking to create new ways of generating our workforce of the future, combining education with real work experience and creating a specialist centre for highway skills development.”