We talked to Leigh Garbutt, Head of Social Value, on how Fortem has been improving lives through our Pathways4Life programme, from early school engagement workshops through to thriving careers - with the focus of providing opportunities for all.
Leigh begins, “In 2005, Fortem introduced our “Opening Doors” campaign for a client in Barnsley. We were asked if we could help some local schools out with some educational tools, as a result we provided a range of STEM workshops for the local primary and secondary schools. From this engagement, the Council asked if we could help with some work experience placements. Fortem agreed, and in their first year provided work experience for 72 students. The success of these early initiatives led to the birth of the Pathways4Life programme, providing a route into a thriving career reflective of all industry challenges and requirements.”
Our Pathways4Life programme
Our programme supports people along their career journey, from start to finish.
The pathways are:
- Pathway 1: School engagement
- Pathway 2: Work experience
- Pathway 3: Apprentices and Management Trainees
- Pathway 4: Long term employment
Pathway 1: Exciting the new generation of talent
Creating excitement in the vast opportunities in the industry is essential, and which is why school engagement is so critical in our programme. Leigh continues, “Early school engagement is critical. Our programme creates rich interactive session that we tailour for the relevant age group. We are focussed in creating excitement in the industry, we love the industry, and we want students to as well.”
Pathway 2: Innovation in work experience
We ensure we can support the greatest number of flexible work experience programmes, this means we can provide meaningful experiences and deliver our goal to break down barriers into employment. For example, we have delivered bespoke programmes for children that have been excluded from school, this has provided great insight the world of work. To ensure accessibility, we also offer virtual work experience programmes, again, by using flexible delivery methods we can support anyone who maybe struggling with accessibility issues.
Through Pathway 2, Fortem works with charity partners, such as Blind in Business, to ensure we help the most vulnerable. Leigh adds, “Engaging partners is a new way for Fortem, to really support those in need. We engage with charity partners to help provide placements, but we have also enhanced the training to our mentors so they are equipped to offer the best support possible.”
Leigh comments, “Often when someone completes a work experience placement, they go onto complete an Apprenticeship or a Management Trainee role. Our new Pathywas4Life programme has introduced a ‘Golden Ticket’ scheme so anyone that has complete a work experience placement can gain access to our apprenticeship day. The Golden Ticket has been introduced to make sure we identify 'talent' and don't let them slip through the net. These people will have demonstrated the Fortem values and behaviours, and they will have received great feedback from their mentor. We want to employ these people in our business whenever possible!”.
Pathway 3: Modern apprenticeships and Management Trainees
The world is changing and never more so in social housing, repairs, and construction. Traditional skills still hold huge amount of value, but green skills requirements is critical to Fortem as we support clients meet Carbon Net Zero plans.
Leigh comments, “Anne Morris, our Talent Manager, and is responsible for making sure our Apprenticeships and Management Trainee programmes remain modern and reflect the skills needed today. In fact, this year we are launching over 22 apprenticeship roles, including new apprenticeships in Customer Liaison roles.
A great example of a current Fortem employee who started as an apprentice with us, and now holds a senior position within the company, is our very own Project Manager, and Level 5 Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management trained, Dan Booler.”
This pathway now has an entry level route into green skills, through our Retrofit Access Programme. This programme is for our decarbonisation projects and is specifically aimed at taking residents with no or limited skills onto the building site, so after a year’s paid programme they can leave with a ‘green skills’ passport.
Pathway 4: Thriving careers and development
Through progression into careers, Fortem provides thriving and often evolving careers. Leigh continues “Our final pathway is about our people having exciting and well supported careers. We have talent management plans and Fortem Advance to support inspiring Managers. We are also pleased to announce our staff are now also supported by our group company, Willmott Dixon, and can access their university programme - all our colleagues can enrich their experiences and meet all their career goals.”
Changing lives and breaking barriers
Pathways4Life relaunches today offering:
- New interactive school engagement programmes
- Enhanced flexible work experience programmes offering Golden Ticket passes
- New apprenticeships, including Customer Liaison Officer roles
- Easy routes to access green skills through the Retrofit Access Programme
- Wider training through our group partners, Willmott Dixon
Leigh Garbutt, Head of Social Value