Southern Water counts results of training

Pam James, Head of People Development, Southern Water, says:

“Our whole business is changing and Skills Training UK is helping us drive that process of change. They understand our business and have worked with us to make the BIT programme an integral part of Southern Water’s people development strategy. The Trainer-Assessors are equipping our teams with a tool-kit of knowledge and skills which can be applied in any situation to improve how things are done. What’s also vitally important is that they are flexible to our 24 hour operational needs and are patient in fitting the training around shift patterns.”

Southern Water’s vision is to be recognised as the UK’s leading water company and business expansion has meant an additional 200 permanent employees have been employed since 2012, bringing the total head count to over 2,000. This includes new teams fulfilling roles which were previously outsourced, including engineering. A further 200-300 permanent staff will be recruited during 2014-15.

Employees are connected to the company’s vision through the training and support they receive to deliver on Southern Water’s customer promises by doing their job well, which is where Skills Training UK fits in.

Skills Training UK began working with Southern Water in 2012 and since then over 200 employees have completed a bespoke Business Improvement Techniques (BIT) programme. Their roles range from facilities management, operations and water inspection to call centre and waste water treatment operatives.

With the help of dedicated Trainer-Assessors, employees have been developing as individuals as well as part of a team. They have been learning how to problem solve and make service and productivity improvements using Kaizen continuous improvements techniques. Some of the business improvement projects tackled as part of the training have also helped address the challenges associated with company growth, such as new work environments, communications and customer service.

Southern Water has reported that the improvement projects undertaken by employees as part of their training generated in excess of £200,000 cost savings between 2012 and 2014 and they expect this to double as the improvements are rolled out. The focus of the training is for employees to work on areas of Quality, Cost and Delivery that they can control themselves so they are all low or no cost to the company.  Southern Water reported that the direct spend on implementing the identified improvement projects was only £20,000 in the first two years.

Darren Simmons, Head of Field Service, Southern Water, says:

“Skills Training UK’s approach is bringing fresh thinking into our organisation. The Trainer-Assessors are teaching our teams how to look at and analyse a process and then identify ways to make improvements. The additional benefit is that the operational field teams are feeling more valued. They feel there’s an investment in their future.”

The partnership has developed further and Southern Water has made Skills Training UK’s BIT training part of its company-wide talent development programme. In 2014 a further 200 employees are being identified from across the business with the potential to develop their knowledge and skills further and progress with Southern Water.

Martin Dunford OBE, Chief Executive, Skills Training UK, with Pam James, Head of People Development, Southern Water, at the company’s Peacehaven Wastewater Treatment Works.

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