The UK’s newest skills academy finally opens its doors

A pioneering civil engineering skills academy unlike anything else in the North East has been officially opened in Hartlepool.

The new skills academy from Seymour Civil Engineering and principal partners Hartlepool College of Further Education and Hartlepool Borough Council will provide certified qualifications to future and current civil engineers both locally and nationally with the aim of helping to close the ever-growing skills gap in the industry.

According to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) the industry needs to recruit in excess of 31,000 people every year to 2022, while research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills suggests more than 750,000 people will leave the sector between 2014 and 2024 and there are additional fears that Brexit could result in the loss of a further 100,000-200,000 personnel.

Graham McPhail, CITB Head of Education and Training, said: “With the industry expected to grow in the coming years amid a skills shortage and the workforce implications of Brexit, it’s essential to give workers the skills they need to become qualified, to not only get on with their careers but also benefit the industry as a whole.”

The new academy from Seymour Civil Engineering will incorporate a wide and diverse training and skills curriculum including house building, surveying, planning, street works, plant & machinery training, horticulture, landscaping, tree surgery and general construction operative apprenticeships.

The site is nestled in 11 acres of land off Brenda Road in Hartlepool and has been made possible thanks to Hartlepool Borough Council making the land available for lease. It is the culmination of three years of planning by the multi award-winning firm.

Niall Crosby, Academy Manager, said: “The initial vision of the academy was to help to go some way to closing the skills gap. Seymour wants to be able to offer quality learning for a range of age groups.

“The academy provides a one-stop-shop for employers to support their training needs across all aspects of construction and civil engineering. Being a large local employer, our offering will be dynamic, evolving in response to market needs and employers’ requirements – ensuring highly trained staff have perfected their trades away from commercial pressures but in a real-life simulated environment. The opportunities that this academy brings are endless.

“To name just a few of the programmes initially on offer include: General Construction Operatives Apprenticeships, NPORS & CPSCS plant training and Certification, confined space training, safe lifting operations, slinging/signalling, protection of underground services, short duration courses including abrasive wheels, manual handling, asbestos awareness, working at height, health and safety – IOSH, NEBOSH and Water Hygiene.

Niall added: “Hartlepool Borough Council has been instrumental in us realising our ambitious plan to provide a new state-of-the-art training academy. We are truly delighted that we have been able to create such an offering in our hometown and we hope it will go some way to putting the skills of the North-East on the map.”

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said: “The council is absolutely committed to doing all it can to ensure that our young people get the best start in their careers, so we were delighted to play a key role in the creation of this training academy.

“There is a shortage of skilled young people in the construction and civil engineering sectors in Hartlepool and thee wider Tees Valley and this ambitious partnership between the Council, Seymour Civil Engineering and Hartlepool College of Further Education will help to close that gap.

“This academy will provide both employment and training for employment, not only for Hartlepool but for the North-East. Working together, we are laying the foundations for many young careers in an industry which is vital to the financial prosperity of the town, the region and the country.”

For more information on courses available at the new skills academy go to: www.hartlepoolfe.ac.uk/seymourskillsacademy

From Apprentice to Civil Engineer

 

 

North East based Seymour Civil Engineering believes in the important role apprenticeships play in bringing the next generation of engineers into its industry.

This is represented by Lewis Hunt, a Site Engineer and Management Trainee Apprentice at Seymour and the journey he is undertaking as an apprentice with the company.

Lewis, 19, from Hartlepool, is one of Seymour’s youngest civil engineers and began his career by helping in the offices, before working on site where he is taking on many roles and responsibilities.

Lewis is currently working as an on-site engineer on the Port of Tyne Container Improvement scheme. His responsibilities include planning, co-ordinating and supervising all technical aspects of the works from the outset. As the project progresses Lewis also ensures that all fabrications are structurally sound.

Other responsibilities include setting out, solving technical issues, providing advice, preparing reports and working closely with the site manager to ensure the project is delivered safely.

Lewis has been an apprentice at Seymour for three years and chose to undertake civil engineering as his focus two years ago after spending the first year benefiting from spending time within each department, providing him with a unique understanding of all business functions. This gave Lewis the commercial advantage of undertaking his role on site.

Alongside the apprenticeship, Lewis is undertaking an HNC Civil Engineering degree at Teesside University, fully funded by Seymour.

Lewis said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity and it shows that apprenticeships in this industry give you the best start.

“I believe I’m in this role because of the effort I put in. I try my absolute best and learn so much from the many different roles I have on site.

“I started my apprenticeship at Hartlepool College of Further Education, which was brilliant, working in the Seymour offices, then moved to working outside where I have learnt so much already and has helped me with my academic studies.”

Research from the Institute of Civil Engineers found that due to an ageing workforce, the UK could face a ‘skills cliff edge’; with around 30% of workers aged over 50 and 700,000 set to retire in the next ten years.

A recent Government study as part of the Year of Engineering Campaign stated that for the engineering sector to gain enough candidates to reduce the skills shortage, they would need around 186,000 skilled recruits each year until 2024.

According to a research brief from the House of Commons, of the 59,000 apprenticeship starts in 2017/18, 16% were in engineering.

Lewis is a CITB Ambassador and has previously spent time attending schools and colleges to share his experiences.

Lewis said: “Apprenticeships are brilliant to introduce to young people as there is an aging work force so there will always be jobs for people to get into.”

Lewis has been involved in a wide variety of engineering projects in Northallerton, Harrogate, Newcastle and Hartlepool so far throughout his time at Seymour.

He continued: “Seymour really invest in you and provide you with a wide range of work and projects – what you need for professional development and gaining valuable experience.”

Throughout his apprenticeship, Lewis attends university once a week and aims to finish his course next year. Completing the degree will ensure that he will be fully qualified by 20 years old in his field.

Lewis added: “I aim to work at Seymour while completing my degree.

“After that, I’m interested in seeking a Chartership in Civil Engineering.

“I hope to make my way up the ladder at Seymour. I am passionate about civil engineering and it is something I’ll look to do for the rest of my career.”

Engineering the North East

Kevin Byrne, Managing Director of Seymour Civil Engineering, believes that the North East is the definitive birthplace of modern engineering and it is here that engineering has made the most impact. Not just on our region but on the world itself. We spoke to Kevin about what makes the North East of England such an important area and what we can do to ensure that heritage continues.

“The North East’s background and history in engineering is probably one of the strongest in the world. Some of the finest engineers came from the North East; including Sir William Armstrong, inventor of high-pressure hydraulic machinery who revolutionised the design of guns and George Stephenson, the ‘Father of Railroads’.

The region has a massive history of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. It was synonymous with quality shipbuilding and the steel industry, and saw the design, build and export of some of the world’s most famous bridges, the most famous being Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can see the massive input this region has had on the world’s infrastructure.

Engineering has had an undeniable effect on the North East, but most people who have never visited the North East won’t understand that.

It is a fabulous place with a terrific infrastructure that is still being improved upon. The quality of life and work/life balance in the region is fantastic. We have a beautiful countryside and it is serviced by a massive and robust infrastructure.

Seymour has recently been involved in a major engineering project in the region which aims to assist the local economy, the A19 Silverlink Roundabout. A triple decker roundabout that will aim to alleviate a lot of congestion and allow the ports to take in a lot more traffic. Seymour’s role was to install £8m highway and kerb drainage on the scheme on behalf of Sisk Lagan.

This major infrastructure change will allow companies in the North to distribute their goods and services more freely.

The future is bright for the region. There is fabulous technology being developed in the North East and we’re now looking at developing advanced manufacturing and turning Teesport, the third largest port in the UK, into a freeport.

The North East is, as far as I’m concerned, looking at a renaissance and to avoid using the B word. I believe the region can be a beneficiary of the outcome of our exit from Europe as we will be able to compete and bring engineering and manufacturing home.

We as a civil engineering company, can see that a lot of manufacturing organisations will need infrastructure, buildings, premises and laydown areas and we see this as a market trend that we’re ready to take advantage of.

Engineering has had an impact on the economy of the region, as it has an effect on any economy around the world.

A lot of people don’t know what engineering is or even notice it until something goes wrong and it’s often overlooked as everyone takes it for granted.

I’ve worked in the North East since 1989, after moving across from Lancashire, and the one piece of engineering in the region I regularly go to is the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead which crosses the Tyne. It’s a fantastic piece of engineering which was cleverly done. It was manufactured five or six miles down the river and put into place by possibly the largest lifting barge in the world back then.

From a purely engineering point of view, that was a very prestige job. It’s iconic of the Newcastle/Gateshead connection and over the years I’ve seen Newcastle grow from being a working dock to what it is now, a centre of excellence in terms of working space, leisure and housing.

The region has had some terrific pieces of engineering, another of which would be the Angel of the North, built in Hartlepool, but I think there are also quite a few jobs which are not quite as iconic but are just as vital.

These are the sea defence jobs and sewage facilities that are often buried, and no one would even know they are there. However, without them there would be flood issues and less than attractive places to live.

So, while I am aware of those jobs – the public wouldn’t necessarily give them a second thought.

I often point out the sports fields in the region to people and they ask me why I find them fascinating. For me, it’s not the fields themselves but rather what’s under them which is absolutely terrific.

Hidden engineering is all around us and without it, things would be very different indeed.

The North East has obviously experienced somewhat of a decline over recent years which has resulted in workers re-educating themselves. The region is now a hotbed of cutting edge advanced manufacturing, technology and offshore wind farming. I honestly believe that the North East is far better than what the ratings would ever give it.

The fact that we have five top class universities with world leading programmes means we have a massive education facility for the development of people in the North East, that is second to none.

I believe post Brexit, as manufacturing comes back, the North East will develop technologies that will be exportable throughout the world and I honestly believe that, whilst there is always room for improvement, the North East is a lot more advanced than what we give ourselves credit for.

Ideally, we need to move people away from large metropolitan areas – in order to do that we need to improve transport links and we have to get the lifestyle facilities in different parts of the UK to make it desirable for commuters. That issue falls with us in the engineering sector.

The North East has always produced the best engineers in the world. We took the railways abroad, we took the canals abroad, the power stations, infrastructure, shipbuilding and bridgebuilding. We have the talent, the generations, the feedstock and the bloodline.

Let’s carry on doing what we do best.”

Is enough being done to encourage young women into engineering?

Sunday 29 June saw the return of International Women in Engineering Day. A day that celebrates the women that make a difference in the engineering sector and also highlights the challenges the industry still faces in encouraging young women into an engineering career. 

In research conducted by Subcon in early 2019, it states that 59% of businesses in the UK believed that enough was being done to encourage women into the industry. 

We spoke to two of the rising stars at Seymour Civil Engineering to get their experiences.  

Victoria Greenwell and Sarah Jopling are both Site Managers at Seymour Civil Engineering who are proud of their chosen career paths.

Victoria, 33, has been qualified for ten years and is now a Site Manager. Victoria is currently managing the £1.3m Port of Tyne Container Improvement Scheme Project.

She said: “I’m passionate about my job and I want to be the best.

 “When I was young there were no females in the industry that I looked up to as it was a male dominated industry. Female role models are so important to the coming generation of female workers. Ideally we need to bring women at an early stage of their careers and let them work their way to senior positions to gain valuable experience. Then they can help influence the next generation. 

“For me it’s happening. I just think it will take time. Starting them young with apprenticeship schemes is a brilliant way to begin but it won’t happen overnight. 

“It’s only been the last couple of years where the industry has been marketed more for women but it is a gradual transition – getting more women into the industry will take time. You never know in 5 year’s time I may be sitting here with a lot more women beside me in senior positions.

Sarah, 28, Site Manager on Sunderland’s Hylton Castle project onbehalf of William Birch, said:  “It’s important to attract and retain the next generation of young women in the sector. It should be a normal thing to see a mixture of male and female workers on a construction site. 

“More and more people like myself, setting examples within senior roles are helping to change that perception within the industry.

“Seymour has done a lot to encourage women into the industry. I’ve been given opportunities from Kevin Byrne, our MD, to join institutes such as NAWIC and I know we invest a lot of time and effort into STEM activities at local schools and colleges. 

“That doesn’t mean that more can’t be done to attract women at a younger age. It’s important for women like myself to be put in front of young women to show them this is what an engineer is in the 21st century. 

“Schools and businesses have a responsibility to show children the options they have when they are young.

“It’s a massive choice that will affect the rest of your life and I feel children need to have more information. The industry needs to support schools with this and get to women when they’re younger to show them the possibilities of what they can become.” 

According to UK Engineering, only 12.37% of all engineers in the UK are women but when asked, 46.4% of girls 11-14 would consider a career in engineering. This shows that the interest from younger women is there. It’s up to education and the industry to work together to ensure the enthusiasm of these young people grows. 

For more information about Seymour Civil Engineering go to: www.seymourcec.co.uk or for more information on International Women in Engineering Day go to:www.inwed.org.uk 

Veterans’ skills set them ahead says leading civil engineer boss Kevin Byrne

Those who have sacrificed the most are being supported by a leading civil engineering firm.

Seymour Civil Engineering is one of the latest companies to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant, a promise to acknowledge and understand those who serve or who have served in the armed forces.

Managing Director Kevin Byrne believes that ex service personnel have special skills and attributes that set them ahead in the work place – and estimates around 10% of the current Seymour workforce have served.

He said: “At Seymour, we have always employed a high proportion of ex services personnel and have always actively recruited service leavers as we recognise the benefits of the transferrable skills, which provide us with a highly trained workforce and disciplined calibre of personnel.

“We are thrilled that signing the Armed Forces Covenant has formalised publicly our support and pride that we hold for our Armed Forces.”

The covenant focuses on helping members of the Armed Forces community and their families have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen.

Support is provided in a number of areas including education, family well-being, having a home, access to healthcare, starting a new career and more.

Kevin has now encouraged other business leaders from across the UK to join the charge and back the pledge.

He added: “By engaging further with the Armed Forces we believe this will strengthen the skill sets of our workforce, whilst providing opportunities to veterans to give back in some small way to the sacrifices they have made for our country.”

Government Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said: “Signing the Armed Forces Covenant is a fantastic way to show support for our former and current service men and women, as well as their families.”

For more information about signing the covenant visit: https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/

Bridge over troubled waters

A crumbling rail bridge located in a town’s ‘best kept secret’ area can now continue to safely carry passengers to their destination. 

It’s an area renowned for its natural beauty – but for the very same reason expert engineers worked in challenging conditions to support the failing Victorian rail underbridge over Greatham Beck, on the outskirts of Hartlepool in the Tees Valley. 

A range of specialist organisations – including Seymour Civil Engineering and AmcoGiffen – came together to complete the project despite being its difficult tidal location and abundant wildlife including kingfisher, woodpeckers and owls. 

Chris Byrne, Contracts Manager for Seymour Civil Engineering, said: “The project has run for 12 weeks and was taken on in collaboration with our sister company AmcoGiffen, which had been contracted by its client Network Rail, to strengthen the Greatham Beck rail bridge. 

“The whole area is teeming with wildlife so we also worked with the Environment Agency to ensure its protection. 

“But despite dealing with the very intricate challenges we faced with tides and wildlife, we finished the project on time and to budget.” 

The underbridge is located between Billingham railway station and Seaton Carew railway station, but no travel was affected during the work, which included installing a steel ‘liner’ under the bridge, masonry repairs and repairing fractures.  

Nick Hill, Senior Project Manager at AmcoGiffen, explained more about the work required to support the structure. 

He said: “The arch structure had deteriorated to such an extent that it was necessary to carry out major works.   

“For this kind of structure it’s normal to line the arch with corrugated steel structure to effectively make the brick arch redundant. As the brick arch deteriorates over the years the steel liner will take more and more of the load. 

“The main challenge was working in an environmentally sensitive area requiring various consents, tidal fluctuations and water management. 

“The tidal conditions were challenging due to the large differences in level from low to high tide. At times of very high tide the water was able to flow over our dam, but the water drained back out when the tide receded allowing us to continue working.” 

An engineering team of around 20 worked on the project which took 12 weeks to complete, starting in mid July and completing at the end of October. 

Nick added: “The project was a very successful example of how teams wanting to work together and communicate well can deliver a high quality project to budget and programme.” 

For more information about Seymour Civil Engineering and its work visit http://www.seymourcec.co.uk

Heroic Hartlepool rugby team do sponsors Seymour proud

Heroic Hartlepool finished in an excellent third place on their second entry into the Bangkok International Rugby Sevens.

The united side, made up of players from four Hartlepool & District clubs, produced a superb effort in stifling heat in the Thai capital. Beating Spanish side, Wiss, 21-12 in the Bowl final to decide the third and fourth positions.

Hartlepool enjoyed a stunning opening day by winning all three games in Group B.

The squad, sponsored by Seymour Civil Engineering, Hart Biologicals and J&B Recycling scored 10 tries, all converted by Ryan Foreman, in victories over Almaty, from Kazakhstan, (21-7), Central Queensland Dingoes (28-14) and Thailand team All for One (21-7).

In Sunday’s International semi-final, the Michael Ainslie-coached team were pitched with Confrerie Occitan in a mouth-watering England v France confrontation.

Les Bleus made the brighter start, scoring two converted first-half tries.

Hartlepool hit back after the break when Foreman chipped ahead for skipper Brad Green to touch down wide out, but they could not find any more scores and went down 14-5, their first defeat of the 2018 competition.

That took them into the Bowl final, where, Wiss, sevens and beach rugby specialists awaited them.

Were Hartlepool disappointed to miss out on a main final showdown with the Pacific Barbarians? Of course, but despondent they were not as they produced a come-from-behind victory over their Spanish opponents, who were old friends from the 2017 tournament.

Friendship went out of the window from the first whistle as Wiss ran in a converted try in the opening minute to go 7-0 up.

Hartlepool attacked at all times but in trying to force things too much, they allowed Wiss the opportunity to counter-attack and only great covering work by Green prevented a possible 14-0 lead to open up.

But some powerful driving play by Aidan Jackson-Smith saw him knock Wiss players out off the way as though were skittles to feed Taz Pelser who scoreed the equalizing try with Foreman converting.

A massive take by Sean McCallum at the start of the second half led to a brilliant Hartlepool try with Peter Youll and Green handling before finding Callum Whitehead whose rampaging run took him all the way to the try-line. Foreman added the extra points and United’s lead was 14-7.

Hartlepool threatened a third try from the re-start, only for Wiss to intercept and run the full length of the Pattana field to score.

Thankfully, McCallum’s back-tracking meant the Spanish touched down wide out and the missed conversion meant Hartlepool kept their noses in front at 14-12.

The next score was going to be decisive and it was Hartlepool who got it, with the team attacking both sides of the posts before Foreman and Pelser combined for the marauding Maddison to charge over. Foreman’s conversion made it 21-12 and there was no way back for Wiss.

Team manager John Bickerstaff declared: “This was a fantastic effort from the entire squad throughout the whole tournament.

“To be returning home with the Bowl is a testament to the work put in and the rugby produced in incredibly hot conditions.

“The players deserve tremendous credit, but our thanks go to the sponsors who made it possible and it was great for Alby Pattison, who as tournament sponsor with Hart Biologicals, saw his team play with such passion and pride.”

Green was joined in the winning squad by Horden & Peterlee comrade McCallum, while West supplied Jackson-Smith, Maddison and Youll, with Shane Jeffrey from Boys Brigade Old Boys and Foreman, Aaron Jeffrey, Patrick O’Callaghan, Pelser and Whitehead from Rovers.

Hartlepool companies come together to support Bangkok Rugby Sevens

Courtesy of Michael Gant

 

Hartlepool’s United rugby team are ready to fly the flag again at a major overseas sporting spectacular – thanks to heavyweight businesses packing a sponsorship punch.

Hart Biologicals, J&B Recycling and Seymour Civil Engineering have scrummed down to back Hartlepool’s second crack at the Bangkok International Rugby Sevens.

The squad, made up of 11 players from four Hartlepool & District clubs, will compete in the International part of the event this weekend in the Thai capital.

Last year’s debut produced instant silverware with Hartlepool winning the Shield section after beating Lao Nagas 19-15.

The town’s entry into the Bangkok Sevens was the inspiration of the founder and managing director of Hart Biologicals, Alby Pattison MBE, whose internationally-renowned company are the principal sponsors of the entire tournament which is played on Saturday and Sunday.

Alby was at the Historic Quay earlier this month for the presentation of the 2018 strips to Hartlepool manager, John Bickerstaff, and coach, Michael Ainslie, along with Mark Penny, from J&B Recycling, and Kevin Byrne, from Seymour Civil Engineering.

“It is fantastic that Hartlepool is competing at such a high-profile tournament again,” said Bickerstaff.

“But we’re only able to compete on the international stage thanks to the support of Hart Biologicals, J&B Recycling and Seymour Civil Engineering.

“They have made the vision become a reality and we’re looking forward to going even better than we did in 2017.

“We’ve kept a core of players from last year and believe we have a well-balanced squad who can challenge this time.”

The Bangkok International Rugby Sevens is an amazing two-days of rugby and sporting fellowship.

Founded in 1995, the event features an international section, plus female, junior male, junior female and social divisions.

“There is something for everyone,” said Bickerstaff. “There are teams from Thailand, Kazakhstan, Spain and Laos in the international section.”

Horden & Peterlee’s Brad Green will skipper the team and he will be joined by club-mate, Sean McCallum, plus West Hartlepool players Aidan Jackson-Smith, Lee Maddison and Peter Youll, Shane Jeffrey from Boys Brigade Old Boys and Ryan Foreman, Aaron Jeffrey, Patrick O’Callaghan, Taz Pelser and Callum Whitehead from Hartlepool Rovers.

As well as the names of their sponsors on the colourful jerseys, there will also be the logo of Prostate Cancer UK. Bickerstaff explained that the squad were unanimous in wanting to raise money for the charity.

“The players felt strongly about supporting Prostate Cancer UK,” said John.

“Prostate Cancer UK are putting millions into research and promoting awareness and we felt in Movember, the month when so many people grow moustaches to raise money, that we can do our bit in Thailand.”

‘We must encourage the North East’s next generation of women to become engineers’

North East civil engineering firm, Seymour Civil Engineering, is calling upon women in the region to help close the ever-growing skills shortage within the region’s engineering sector.

 

With women only making up 11% of engineers in the UK and reports from the not-for-profit organisation Engineering UK showing that the engineering industry currently has an annual shortfall of at least 20,000, Seymour Civil Engineering is eager to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering.

 

Andrea Cartwright, Head of Training at Seymour Civil Engineering, said: “When it comes to the skills shortage within engineering, a lot of attention is focused on educating school leavers about the opportunities available within the sector. Yet we have a huge number of women in the region who are being overlooked as a potential answer to the skills crisis.

 

“The industries main concentration needs to be breaking down the stereotype of an engineer, changing the perception that a job in engineering means putting on PPE, heading out on a construction site and getting your hands dirty.

 

“There are so many opportunities within the sector that people just aren’t aware of, largely because the multi disciplines of engineering aren’t well promoted. Many women have no idea how and where their skills may fit, and are unaware of the training support available to get them in to a career in engineering.”

 

Seymour is currently financially supporting 13% of its workforce within further or higher education, and has strong relationships with a number of colleges and universities across the North East.

 

Melanie Kent, a Quantity Surveyor from Seymour Civil Engineering who is currently studying for a degree in Quantity Surveying at Northumbria University, feels that more must be done to educate women on the opportunities available to them within the sector.

 

She said: “I would love to see an increase of women in the sector, but a huge challenge for the industry is trying to break the stereo type, alter perception and increase confidence of working within a male dominated environment. I spend a lot of my time working on sites across the North East and attitudes toward women onsite today have completely changed from 10 years ago.

 

“As an industry we’ve worked hard to change how engineering sees women, now it’s time to change how women see engineering, by exposing them to the opportunities and informing them about the training available to get them there.

 

“Getting a degree was a lifelong goal but due to a range of circumstances it was something I had always had to defer. Starting a university course as a 26-year-old single mum, working full time, was a daunting prospect but thanks to the financial and professional support Seymour provided, I am in a position to thrive within my career.”

 

In its 40th anniversary year Seymour’s commitment to training and development has been formally recognised within the region. The company took home the Investment in Training award at the Hartlepool Business Awards and was given Highly Commended in the People and Development award at the Constructing Excellence Awards.

Laying the foundation for 40 successful years in business

The engineering and construction industries are no doubt one of the most challenging and economically volatile sectors in the UK. Whether that’s in plugging the skills-gap, forward-planning in-line of government measures or guaranteeing regular work and future contacts. 

 This year, industry stalwart Seymour Civil Engineering celebrates its 40th anniversary and its journey from a local provider to a national award-winning contractor. To find out what has led to the company’s milestone achievement, Managing Director Kevin Byrne outlines the growth of the organisation and its legacy. 

 I am incredibly proud of the business’ evolution and its achievements since its humble beginnings back in 1978. I could never have imagined back when I joined the business, the projects, contracts, opportunities and dedicated internal team that we have created. 

 As a company, there are a number of values that we stick by and the first has to be our people. Our clients, suppliers and industry partners come into contact with our teams daily and therefore employee happiness and well-being at work is a top priority, as well as their continual development and growth within the business. 

 We firmly believe in home grown talent and currently we’re supporting 13% of our workforce through higher education, we have a thriving trainee and apprenticeship scheme which supports young engineers in to the industry, and the CPD and upskilling of all employees is considered a priority not a luxury. 

 However, our people would have nothing to do if it wasn’t for our second value, making sure we’re in demand by being the contractor of choice. We have team members dedicated to ensuring we are versatile and fitting to what our clients are looking for. The phrase ‘don’t put your eggs in one basket’ may sound cliché but it’s vital as a contractor to make sure we are continually developing, adding to our services (if it’s a viable and in demand business option), adjusting to market fluctuations and being open to taking on a multitude of projects. 

 From flood alleviation, to urban regeneration, historic restoration and transport infrastructure, Seymour Civil Engineering has done it all, working on large scale projects such as ‘Remaking Beamish’ at Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham, providing the civil and infrastructure work for the £18million expansion, and the A19/A1058 improvement scheme in North Tyneside, undertaking the highway drainage and combined kerb drainage as part of the £75m junction upgrade. 

 Take the industry 4.0 and digital revolution, we’re now using digital to our advantage to improve in-house and on-site operations and improve clients and industry partners experience when working with us. Most recently we’ve developed from scratch an online portal to manage employee training and project staffing which can be easily accessed from a phone or tablets. 40 years ago, there was no internet, so it is important to constantly embrace new technologies.   

 Repeat business and partnerships are crucial to us and therefore our work must have a proven high quality. In the last 12 months alone we’ve been awarded the Investment in Training Award at the Hartlepool Business Awards, and at the Constructing Excellence Awards, alongside receiving highly commended in the People Development category, we won the Health, Safety and Well-being Award. 

 Internal processes are also streamlined, our clients have single points of contact and as a self-delivering company, we ensure there is a short chain of command to the top. If there is a problem, it’s dealt with efficiently, confidently and whilst communicating with all parties involved. We want Seymour to be a brand of quality that clients are confident to work with again and again. 

 Last but never least is giving back. As a company, how can we expect to be successful if we don’t help those around us? As I mentioned earlier home-grown talent is very important to us so we support local educational schemes, appoint STEM ambassadors, regularly engage with schools and colleges, and attend industry taster events to educate young people on the benefits of a career in engineering. This year we were awarded the ICE’s Mike Gardiner Cup for commitment to the institute’s education programme, working to inspire the engineers of the future. 

 As exciting as the next few months will be for the Seymour, celebrating this incredible business milestone, my blueprint remains the same. Standing still is not an option for us and even though it is unlikely that I will still be with the company 40 years from now, everything I do is to ensure that Seymour is in it for the long game.