CIHT / Colas Skills Award


S-Skills for Highways

Kier Highways & Surrey County Council

S-Skills for Highways is an innovative partnership between Surrey County Council and Kier, that brings vulnerable people furthest from employment into the workplace through a supported programme. Formed as a Social Enterprise, S-Skills for Highways engages candidates who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs) or those with special educational needs, with an intention of carrying out basic highway works in the community.

Impact and Results
The initiative benefits the individuals, the organisations, the community and wider society. It relieves pressure on over-worked Surrey case workers, it provides transferable training to the candidates and it gives Kier the opportunity to see the attitude and capability of candidates before offering them an apprenticeship.

Most importantly, it helps to break the dependency cycle within families and communities; providing structure and opportunity for individuals. Using Kier’s social value calculator, S-Skills for Highways generates £450K of value each year.

Judges' Comments
"A challenging, collaborative initiative, yielding multiple benefits for the sector, community and individuals."


HW Martin understand that project under-performance is rarely through lack of technical ability - more to do with lack of efficiency and effectiveness of the project organisation. 

We recognise that the UK Highways and Transportation agenda will not be delivered without a collaborative environment where all areas of the supply chain are working effectively together.

Behavioural Skills Development

H.W. Martin (Traffic Management) Limited

Further, we understand that successful service delivery is driven by the culture of the organisation and in turn the behaviour of the people within it.

It is our ability to integrate our technical expertise (eligibility) with our behaviours, attitudes and actions (suitability) that is the key differentiator in terms of our ability to foster truly collaborative relationships that create the potential for enhanced shared performance outcomes that benefit all parties.

It is this level of integration that releases the true potential of HW Martin's value proposition - creating the right environment for high performing teams to develop - enhancing collaboration and driving efficiency, performance and project outcomes.

At HW Martin we are focusing on engaging our teams and individuals at all levels within our business to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of behaviours and to encourage all members of our teams to adopt appropriate behaviours aligned to our values base.


The skills gap and aging workforce within the UK highways industry is well documented and the Highways UK publication “Highways skills shortage: the ticking time bomb” (April 2017) sets out the critical skills issues facing the industry. This includes Highways England’s estimate of the need to employ an additional 12,000 people across the Strategic Road Network (SRN) - an increase of over 50% - by 2020. 

Kier Highways Electrical Trailblazer Apprenticeship Programme

Kier Highways Ltd, JTL Training Ltd & Electrical Testing Ltd

It is also forecast that over half the existing workforce will have retired within a decade. 

The skills crisis can only be solved with a radical change in mind-set and the shortage must be seen as an opportunity. In order for these opportunities to be maximised a longer term view must be taken and investment made into skills.

In 2016, Kier recognised the need to make a difference and engaged with specialist training organisations where it quickly became apparent there were few providers registered to deliver NVQ’s / highway electrical qualifications together with apprenticeships.

In collaboration with JTL Training Ltd and Electrical Testing Ltd, Kier have developed the Trailblazer Apprenticeship Programme, providing a qualification in line with the Highway Electrical Maintenance & Installation Operative Level 2. JTL have considerable experience as electrical apprenticeship providers, attracting top young talent into the industry and Electrical Testing Ltd are one of the UK’s leading providers in highways electrical training.
The result is an excellent programme for young people entering the industry, with the first cohort of apprentices commencing in January 2018.