After announcing itself in the highway maintenance market last year, Skanska is looking for new recruits who want a challenge.
When Skanska bought Atkins’ UK highways services business for £18M last year, it put down a marker signifying its intention to be a serious player in the highways maintenance sector, according to Skanska contract director, Don Gordon.
“The company made a big investment when it bought Atkins’ highways services, and proved that it really wants to be in this market for the long term,” he says.
As a result of the acquisition, Skanska is now responsible for providing all the design, delivery and maintenance for the Highways Agency’s Area 2 asset support contract framework that the two firms had won in joint venture.
The contract covers over 1,000km of roads in the south west of England and is worth up to £80M a year.
We encourage a team approach, so we want people who are quite comfortable interacting with those around them
Skanska now also manages a range of other local authority highway maintenance contracts, including Somerset; Bath and North East Somerset; Gloucestershire; Oxfordshire; and Cambridgeshire. As a result, the firm is recruiting, and feels it has something really interesting to offer engineers that they may not find elsewhere, thanks to the way design and delivery are fully integrated in these contracts.
“As a big player in the highway maintenance market, we have recognised that this is a rising trend, both in workload and in the size and scale of schemes, so we think we have some very interesting opportunities for designers and project managers who want to get involved,” says Skanska technical services director Mo Perkins.
“We’ve got highway maintenance capability and construction capability, and both of these need a high level of design.”
Perkins says the company is looking for around 70 staff to start immediately on its Area 2, Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire contracts alone, and anticipates a similar number will be needed next year as well.
Search for engineers
Skanska is looking for engineers at all career levels - from graduates and apprentice technicians to senior managers - and across a range of disciplines, particularly in pavement and structures design, but also highway, drainage and geotechnical designers.
What makes these jobs different to equivalent consultancy roles is the integration between design and delivery, and the opportunity that creates for getting involved on site, says Gordon, who is in charge of the company’s Area 2 contract.
“We encourage the pavement engineers, who identify the need for a scheme, to get involved with the designers and for them to get involved with the supply chain and on to site,” he says. “So the pavement engineers and the design people can get involved in actual delivery.”
“We try to encourage a team approach, so we want people who are quite comfortable interacting with those around them, and who are not afraid to put their hand up and say ‘I can do that’,” he adds.
“We also want people who think outside the box, because we need innovative solutions in how we deliver things,” Gordon continues, citing a recent example of a scheme on the M5, where a bridge carrying the motorway was replaced while traffic continued to run beneath and alongside.
Perkins joined Skanska as a result of the acquisition. He says that anyone joining the team now will have the opportunity to get involved in a wider range of projects than is typical in highway maintenance, because the government is pumping more money into the sector.
As a result, he says, the contracts the company is bidding for are getting larger, both in terms of the number of individual schemes within a contract and the size of those schemes.
“What we’re being asked to do is more design, and more schemes, and bigger schemes,” he says.
Perkins also points out that joining Skanska to work on one of the highway management contracts also opens the door for a huge range of major projects. After all Skanska built London’s Gherkin and widened the M25.water.” It’s a start.