News: Recruiting and employing trainees with W Stirland

01 April 2019

We talked to Kempton Cannon, Construction Director at W Stirland, about how CoTrain has helped his business take a new approach to recruiting and employing trainees.

In 2018, Kempton Cannon, Construction Director at W Stirland, met CoTrain at a meeting for local developers hosted by Crawley Council, where contractors were encouraged to consider creating new opportunities for apprentices on their projects in the Borough.

Kempton has seen management trainees come through W Stirland but had never considered a Technical apprentice.

We recently caught up with Kempton to talk about how CoTrain has helped his business take a new approach to recruiting and employing trainees.

How have you typically gone about recruiting trainees in the past?

Prior to becoming part of CoTrain, our trainee recruitment was somewhat ad hoc. CoTrain has given us the ability to interview prospective trainees, make a candidate selection and tailor a training programme to trainees and our objectives.

They provide the potential trainee with a pre-interview coaching session so they are fully briefed on our business and feel confident going in to an interview situation.

What were the challenges in doing this yourselves?

Finding trainees for ourselves was extremely difficult. We are a small business. The time required to approach colleges meant that our resources were being diverted from carrying out our day jobs. The ‘go it alone’ approach did not work effectively.

How did using CoTrain to recruit make a difference? 

Using CoTrain has completely changed the way we find and employ trainees. The services provided have simplified the whole process. Candidates are matched to us by CoTrain, who set up interviews, carry out the necessary administration and essentially support us and the trainee.

What benefits have there been to CoTrain managing the early employment of your apprentices?

Using CoTrain to provide us with trainees has made a huge difference. Whereas before we were responsible for every aspect of employing a trainee, CoTrain has taken the general PAYE and HR administration off our hands, leaving us to concentrate on providing meaningful training programmes.

Photo: (from left) Sabrina Aldridge, Harvey Newman (apprentice) and Kempton Cannon

CoTrain apprentice, Harvey Newman joined W Stirland in November 2018, with his first placement in the business supporting the commercial team where Kempton paired him with a mentor; Project Surveyor Sabrina Aldridge who also commented:

Harvey is aged just 18 years and has exceeded our expectations. As a young person new to construction, he had within his first month become actively involved in all aspects of the role of surveyor under my supervision. It has been interesting and very rewarding showing Harvey how the financial management side of a construction project works.

Kempton, can you tell us about why you chose to put your apprentice on a placement rotation (a similar approach for a graduate management trainee)? How does this benefit your business and the apprentice? 

The placement rotation route enables young people to experience each element of the business to give them a better focus, on what they enjoy and maybe wish to pursue as a career. We firmly believe that to properly understand the industry it is of great benefit to have gained even a small amount of experience in each facet of it.

Harvey will be working with our Surveyors, Estimators, Technical Department, as well as out on site. This experience will hopefully stand him in good stead in the future.

What kind of work is Harvey taking on, now he is almost 6 months into his training?   

Firstly, and more importantly, Harvey has settled in extremely well. He is working closely with Sabrina and learning the ethics of Surveying. His daily duties incorporate Sub-Contract comparisons, Sub-contract enquiries, attending internal project review meetings, external client meetings and Sub-contractor pre-let meetings as well as daily administration tasks such as filling, copying of Sub-contract payment certificates and orders.

 As you can see Harvey has gained invaluable experience over the past few months whilst working with Sabrina.

What does the future look like for W Stirland? 

I have been in the construction industry for over 20 years, in this period I have seen a gradual decline in young people entering the industry. For me, it is about giving something back and encouraging the younger generation to grasp the opportunities out there in construction.

Harvey joined our business at an incredibly busy time.  Our projected turnover is up on previous years as are the number of projects. We hope that he will continue to flourish and take further steps in to the world of construction.

To find out more about CoTrain can help your business, contact: 

Samantha Page Business Development & Partnership Manager

T: 01189 207209 E:

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