Programme manager CH2M Hill is to make the UK a “focal point” for its international work outside the United States, one of its senior directors told NCE this week.
The firm, which bought consultant Halcrow in 2011, plans to hire 500 new “high skilled” engineers to add to its 3,300 strong UK workforce.
CH2M Hill international division president Jacque Rast told NCE that the UK would serve as a focal point for CH2M Hill’s international business, partially due to the abilities of British engineers to work well around the globe. “We use talented UK engineers around the world,” she said.
“When graduates come to work for us, they not only have the opportunity to work on important projects in the UK, but also to work on interesting projects around the world. It’s not just for UK projects that we want to hire UK engineers.”
The 500 new jobs will not replace posts made redundant following the Halcrow acquisition said Rast. “Halcrow had about 2,800 people in the UK when we bought it and we had about 350,” she said. “We now have 3,300 people and we are adding another 500 on top of that.”
The firm has been pursuing international expansion, with 1,200 new jobs added outside the US in 2012.
“We’re looking to add another 2,000 international jobs on top of that,” said Rast. “Those will mostly be engineering and technical jobs.”
As well as the UK, these jobs will go to CH2M Hill’s operations across the world.
“The Middle East is very robust, especially in the energy and infrastructure sectors,” said Rast.
“We see particular opportunities in Qatar. We also have a lot of work in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
“I see great growth in India. What we’re seeing now is work in India for infrastructure and environmental projects.”
Rast is keen to stress that the UK is a key area for the firm’s future expansion. “It’s still a great market with the infrastructure plans and all the other things it’s trying to accomplish,” she said. It’s really the crossroads of the international world.”
The firm will be hiring across all of its sectors, with water and transport as the two main areas.
Last month, CH2M Hill European water managing director Helen Samuels told NCE that the firm was planning to hire 170 new engineers into its water business (NCE 13 March 2013). These are part of the 500.
“Outside the US, the UK is the only place where all of our sectors are represented,” she said, pointing out that the UK has skills needed for every market that it works in around the world.
The firm also plans to hire a proportion of its workforce in graduate roles every year.
“We’ve set a minimum target of hiring 40 graduates. But we should exceed that target,” said CH2M Hill director of European corporate affairs Jonathan Refoy.
The firm is also focusing considerable resources on developing its existing workforce through training, investing £3M and 50,000 hours in training UK staff last year alone.
In 2011 Rast told NCE that the acquisition of Halcrow was part of a “strategy of global expansion through acquisition”. However, the firm no longer plans to focus on acquisitions to drive expansion. “We’ll expand mostly through organic growth; winning work, setting up base somewhere and then adding more work.”