Farrans Construction is a leading civil engineering and building contractor with more than 80 years’ experience of delivering world-class projects across the UK and Ireland. It is a sister company of Tarmac and part of CRH, the global building materials business.

The company has more than 600 people operating from offices in London, Cambridge, Belfast, Edinburgh and Leeds, with further site bases which connect our network. Its team specialises in seven core sectors – Commercial, Living Spaces, Public Sector, Transportation, Water, Marine and Energy. 

In an interview with the Engineers Journal, Farrans Construction managing director Dominic Lavery discusses what the CPD Employer of the Year 2023 award means to the civil engineering and building contractor.

Farrans Construction managing director Dominic Lavery.

What does it mean to you to win this prestigious award?

Winning the CPD Employer of the Year 2023 is a fantastic achievement and it follows on from our two-year graduate programme, Farrans Foundation, being awarded the status of CPD Approved Graduate Development Programme by Engineers Ireland earlier this year.

With this we became only the third construction and civil engineering company on the island of Ireland to hold the accolade. Ongoing learning and development is a priority within our business and we have worked closely with Engineers Ireland as an accredited employer for more than 10 years.

We want to provide our colleagues with CPD which is of the highest quality to support their career goals and this award confirms that we are doing just that.

How important is CPD at Farrans, and how important is it to be CPD Accredited by Engineers Ireland?

We encourage CPD throughout the business in all roles. It is important to us that our people are given the opportunity to increase their knowledge, skills and experience in our industry to allow them to progress in their roles.

Personal development and organisational development are essential in how we adapt and respond to change as a company. We want to have a strong succession plan in place, we want to have agility in our teams, we want to grow strong leadership, we want to instil the right culture and we want our people to have access to the right resources and support to achieve that.  

Universities are encouraging students to become members of the professional body relevant to their degree and to start working on Chartership as soon as they enter the work place.

Our clients are also requiring more Chartered professionals for projects. Therefore having CPD Accreditation is of the utmost importance to us. We need to have an advantage to draw new talent into our business. The recent CPD Approval of our graduate programme has given us a big advantage on that.

Ankita Adhikary and Niall Campbell.

Your winning entry for the CPD EOTY competition was Farrans Foundation Graduate Programme. Can you describe this initiative?

Our graduate programme has been five years in the making and it continues to evolve and improve. We gather feedback and add in new modules in response to market changes.

Our training is delivered by the experts in the business within each role covering planning, quality, commercial awareness, procurement, BIM among others. All graduates have a roadmap of the skills and experience they need to develop while working their way through the two-year programme.

Everything we do through the programme is aligned to Chartership with the relevant professional bodies ie Engineers Ireland, ICE, RICS, CIOB etc. At the end of the programme all graduates go through an assessment centre similar to sitting a professional review to become chartered.

Why was it important to have a programme of this nature in place?

We identified a gap between junior engineers and senior engineers. We had great young talent in the business but we needed them to progress at a faster pace.

We set up a working group with senior stakeholders in the business to see how we could progress our graduates at a faster pace to close the gap, and that’s when Farrans Foundation was formed.

As we started working our way through the programme we started to add in more and more modules. We then looked at how we could tie it all into Chartership and so we updated a clear roadmap that showed the graduates how all their learning and development was aligned with the relevant professional bodies to ensure they had everything they needed and they could progress to Chartered status. This was a huge selling point and of significant benefit to them when writing up reports of their experience.  

For other organisations looking to develop or refine their Graduate Development Programme, what advice would you give them?

Graduates need to learn about the business as a whole. They can’t be pigeon-holed in their roles and not understand how all the other stakeholders work to complete a project. They need to understand all the elements to the business so that when they progress within the organisation they understand all that it entails.

Our graduate programme allows them to see how everybody’s role in the business is important and that we wouldn’t be able to complete a project on time and within budget unless we all work together to achieve the end goal.

What do you anticipate will be the key outcomes for Farrans from this programme?

Our hope is that it will help to attract and retain more graduates, that we will have more Chartered engineers going forward and that we will have closed the gap between junior and senior engineers.

We also know that this programme will support us to have a strong leadership portfolio for the future, it will lead to improved quality on our projects and a stronger commercial mindset at every level in the organisation.