Balfour Beatty’s new Forth Valley College project brings lasting community value

Balfour Beatty is busy constructing Forth Valley College’s new £78 million Falkirk Campus, while creating meaningful community relationships and legacies.

Work on the new 20,709 square metre Falkirk Campus began in October 2017 to accommodate more than 2,000 full-time students and house the administrative headquarters. The project is due for completion in November 2019.

Balfour Beatty has invested heavily in programmes to benefit local residents, schools and the college itself, as well as boosting the local economy by employing nearby workers and purchasing materials from various community enterprises.

The support for the local community is measured and monitored through a Social Value Portal, providing measurable values to the community and local employment, all of which will be displayed in the new college when it is completed.

Outlining this community-focused ethos, Stewart MacPhail, Balfour Beatty’s Project Director for Forth Valley College, said:

“We work collaboratively with the client to create and deliver an ambitious programme of Community Benefits, which is monitored and evidenced through the use of the Social Value Portal. This enables us to quantify the socio-economic impact of our delivery.

“Through offering apprenticeships, graduate roles and work experience to local school students and jobseekers, we have really embraced our client’s ethos of ‘making learning work’.

“I am personally delighted at the level of buy-in I have experienced from our site team and subcontractors in supporting our Community Benefit delivery at Forth Valley College. Everyone has shared their knowledge, expertise and passion for the construction industry through their involvement with the community.”

He added:

“We plan to build on our good practice and continue to work with our client and the community to deliver lasting benefits whilst we focus on safely constructing a world class new campus facility at Forth Valley College.

“We are all proud of our achievements to date and look forward to continuing with this over the next year.”

Community Benefit Delivery plan

Balfour Beatty’s comprehensive Social Value Portal makes impressive reading and includes the following key statistics:

  • £6,248,304 in total social value delivered to date
  • 3,133 apprentice hours worked to date
  • 108 weeks worked by graduates
  • 111 hours spent in local schools
  • £4.4m social value spent on local labour
  • A social enterprise running on-site catering

As well as all of the above, the team is demonstrating how much they #loveconstruction by sharing all of their work on social media, making over 130,000 impressions on just Twitter alone by September 2018.

The contractor has also been working in partnership with local community investment company, Forth Valley Community Focus (FVCF) and DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) to run a Construction Academy to support local unemployed people back into work.

This four-week Academy commenced at the end of August, with FVCF delivering employability training, HSE training and CSCS cards for all participants.

Encouraging STEM education

Balfour Beatty has also sponsored UK STEM Skills charity, the EDT (Engineering Development Trust), to work in partnership with both themselves and Forth Valley College to develop an entirely new school STEM educational resource.

The project, which aims to promote foundation apprenticeships to S4 students, links industry with local colleges and has an overarching aim to provide a pathway into construction for young people at Foundation Apprenticeship level. Each participating pupil was given a mentor from Balfour Beatty to support them during their project.

Other initiatives aimed at educating and inspiring the next generation included 10 members of Balfour Beatty staff acting as voluntary mentors for the FVC students who were tasked with finding real-life construction-related solutions during the build.

An educational showcase for the new college

Over 160 secondary pupils across the Forth Valley College have received extra-curricular STEM learning, site experience and mentoring from Balfour Beatty and the EDT. The pupils’ work will be displayed at a ceremony in the newly constructed Forth Valley College in 2019.

Outlining the contractor’s neighbourhood-driven approach, Scheme Monitor Campbell Adamson said:

“The site is doing terrific work by being involving with everyone from the local community including the schools, the existing college and the local interest groups.

“This was the most deserved score of nine for the community section of any site I have visited. The site continues to sponsor pathways into construction at nine local secondary schools and provides mentors to facilitate this valuable work.

“The team are also working with The Engineering Development Trust to run an innovative school STEM project resulting in local pupils being mentored by Balfour Beatty staff and gaining Silver level Industrial Cadet Certificates. They are also providing college staff with training to understand BIM 3d modelling.”

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The Best Practice Hub is provided by the Considerate Constructors Scheme