Building contractors William Skinner & Son expand apprentice scheme and prioritise staff training

From: Fame Publicity Services
Published: Sun Nov 16 2008

DEFYING the current economic downturn, Ayrshire and Cambridgeshire-based building contractors William Skinner & Son are taking on five new Modern Apprentices and also developing and expanding training schemes for all their existing staff.

William Skinner & Son personnel manager Stephanie Hammond explains: "We currently employ two apprentices within the business, but we are planning to take on five more during 2009 as part of our commitment to developing a professional, highly skilled workforce."

The company has now also devised and is operating training and development plans for all employees within the company. This has been an ongoing process over the last eighteen months to move the training activities from reactive to proactive and to ensure that the company’s investment in people is managed centrally to ensure better co-ordination and return on that investment.

William Skinner & Son’s Health, Safety and Skills training plan for all site-based staff has been in operation for over a year, and is reviewed and prioritised on a bi-monthly basis, led by the personnel manager with input from contract management, a Health & Safety specialist and employee representatives. This means that directors can look at up-coming projects and ensure that training efforts are directed at ensuring good H&S practices on those contracts.

In addition, during the last twelve months William Skinner & Son have held twenty different training events for site-based employees, which have been attended by 138 delegates.

The company has also developed its own in-house management development programme in conjunction with Scottish Enterprise and the GO training consultancy. This gives every manager with line management responsibility the opportunity to attend regular workshops to allow them to enhance their existing management skills, share ideas as a group and devise strategies to enable managers to move forward confidently as the company as a whole grows. This programme will run until late spring when Skinners will be able to fully evaluate its success and develop similar programmes for site supervisors and specialist support staff.

The William Skinner & Son senior management team is also embarking upon the Scottish Enterprise-sponsored ‘Leadership for Growth’ programme, which is designed to help leaders of growth businesses develop vision, mindset, skills, belief and discipline to help promote professional development and business improvement.

Finally, the company maintains a keen interest in the benefits of lean management techniques where, after an efficiency review, employees are nominated to work on projects that will improve business performance. These could be anything that increases profit, productivity or efficiency.

Skinners have so far undertaken two such reviews which looked at key business systems. Another is currently underway, and the company will nominate a further team early next year.

William Skinner & Son managing director Sandy Cunningham commented: "At Skinners we have always believed in the value of taking on and developing apprentices.

"Now as we are in the process of instilling a greater measure of stability into the company at the same time as strengthening our position in the marketplace, we see today’s apprentices as tomorrow’s potential managers.

"Skinners strategy has always been to develop management and trade skills organically. Many of our senior management team today have trade backgrounds, which, in tandem with the training with which we support them, provides a much better offer to our present and future clients."


Building contractors William Skinner & Son’s Ayrshire and Cambridgeshire bases cover Scotland and Eastern England with activities including building maintenance with 24-hour helpdesk, retail refurbishment and construction, painting, joinery manufacture, metal fabrication, terrazzo tiling, shopfitting, Sika Trocal and Ward Topdeck roofing, and solar hot water installation.

William Skinner & Son have recently diversified into tree houses with contracts from leading hotel and conference centre group De Vere Venues.

They have also made a successful entrance into the solar heating market, attracting a large number of new clients throughout the UK, and have demonstrated their commitment to the wider field of renewable energy by installing a 6kW Proven wind turbine at their HQ in St. Quivox and including PV panels in the design for their proposed office extension.

The aim now is to offer general advice on the suitability of any of the available renewable energy techniques, or any mix of them, to solve individual energy supply problems, and they are developing a consortium of available local expertise to help them develop that.

Founded in Ayrshire in 1964, Skinners made their first move down south into England five years ago, renting a site and offices in Saffron Walden in Essex from which to carry out the substantial amount of refurbishment work they were then doing for supermarket giant Tesco.

But the company’s recent expansion and diversification into new areas of business including renewable energy and tree houses has made necessary the purchase of their own larger facilities comprising an 8,000 sq ft yard, 1,900 sq ft of office space, and a 1,620 sq ft warehouse.

The new premises in Meldreth, near Cambridge, were officially opened earlier this year by Andrew Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire.

William Skinner & Son managing director Sandy Cunningham said: "Our commitment in Meldreth is a measure of the importance to us of the market in London, the South East, Midlands and East Anglia.

"The Meldreth base provides high quality warehouse, workshop and office accommodation from which we can develop and control our market penetration. It has capacity for expansion to support several times its present level of activity."

Sandy Cunningham concluded: "William Skinner & Son is now expanding satisfactorily on all fronts from our headquarters in Ayrshire and our new base in south-east England. We are traditional building contractors who have developed a diverse range of untraditional new skills, and we want potential clients in England and in Scotland to be aware of the comprehensive building skills and experience that we offer."

Further information:

Sandy Cunningham
Managing Director
William Skinner & Son
Cunningham House
St Quivox
Ayr KA6 5HQ
Ayrshire, Scotland

Tel: 0845 051 9060
Fax: 01292 671133


William Skinner & Son
Southern Office
College Farm Business Centre
North End

Tel: 0845 051 9070
Fax: 01763 262916


Building contractors William Skinner & Son of Ayrshire in Scotland and Cambridgeshire in England are founder members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle.

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle is an association formed last year of some of the top companies in Ayrshire.

Its purpose is to publicise its members, and to celebrate and promote the rich diversity of industry, commerce and business services available within the county boundaries of Ayrshire.

Members include the Clydesdale Bank, Ayr Racecourse and the Western House Hotel, and member company activities include building and construction, architectural practice, estate agency and land management, chartered accountancy, insurance broking, legal services, golf club management, marketing services and brand creation, web design and public relations consultancy.

For further information about The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle and to apply for membership, e-mail

Founder members of the Elite Ayrshire Business Circle:

Clydesdale Bank
Ayr Racecourse
Western House Hotel
CKD Galbraith Property Consultants
Frazer Coogans Solicitors
Accident & Injury Claims Centre
MacKay Corporate Insurance Brokers
Donald Ross Estate Agents:
William Skinner & Son Building Contractors
Sinclair Scott Chartered Accountants
Paligap Creative Agency
ARP Lorimer & Associates Architects
Brunston Castle Golf Club
Accident & Injury Claims Centre
Fouters Restaurant
Christie Financial Planning Ltd
Allison Lightbody Waddell Chartered Surveyors
Kestrel Press
Fame Publicity Services Public Relations Consultancy
Easton Property
Easton Kitchens & Bathrooms


Murdoch MacDonald
Fame Publicity Services
10 Miller Road
Ayrshire, Scotland

Telephone: +44 (0)1292 281498

Issued on behalf of William Skinner & Son building contractors in Ayrshire, Scotland and Cambridgeshire, England by Fame Publicity Services public relations consultancy.
Company: Fame Publicity Services
Contact Name: murdochmcd
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Contact Phone: 00 44 1292 281498

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