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At Willmott Dixon, we believe the best way to improve a person’s life chances is to help them find decent work. This starts with our people and extends to those in our supply chain and beyond. We have a special focus on people furthest from the labour market and, as signatories of the Social Mobility Pledge, we do our bit to tackle economic inequality.

This belief is what led us to sign up to the Real Living Wage, set our 2030 gender parity target and, ultimately, helped us in being named the UK's best workplace at the 2022 Best Companies Awards.

Our Careers Target

In 2020, we set ourselves a target to support 500,000 people with their careers by 2030. Our aim is to have a deeper, more meaningful impact on the people we connect with. Our careers target focuses on helping people who face barriers to work to develop good careers, some of them in our business.


Building Lives programmes

We strengthened our national Building Lives programmes to deliver in excess of 400 programmes to more than 8,600 individuals over the course of the year. Supporting our Now or Never ambition to help those facing barriers to employment, in 2022, we helped 144 people into work and directly employed 20.

Read on to find out about our suite of community initiatives to boost employability, such as our Building Lives Academy, our engagement with Kickstart, our STEM enrichment programme and our work to attract people into good careers in the construction industry.

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Building Lives Academy

Our Building Lives Academies have continued to go from strength to strength in 2022. Targeted at 16-to-24-year-olds who are long-term unemployed, the programme gives young people the opportunity to learn construction skills and gain hands-on work experience. They can also get support with CV writing, job hunting and interview practice to help them find work. Each academy is linked to a Willmott Dixon project with the latest created in collaboration with Kensington and Chelsea Council as part of the company’s project to build 57 new homes.

There are now multiple Building Lives Academies across the country enabling people to gain vital skills and opening doors to employment. And behind closed doors, the project has extended to prison communities with drylining academies in HMP Elmley, HMP Cardiff and HMP Belmarsh. These academies upskill prisoners to NVQ Level 2, with Willmott Dixon and drylining partners providing technical support and materials as well as offering advice and employment opportunities to the men. We also provide employability advice to prisoners to help them into work when they leave custody. Our teams spoke to groups of prisoners at HMP Exeter, HMP Leeds (below) and HMP Wandsworth about routes into construction careers. And in Leeds, our social value team reached out to women prisoners at HMP New Hall to deliver a programme on routes into construction careers and wider careers training.

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We work in collaboration with Willmott Dixon’s supply chain and local training providers, to help provide a second chance to ex-offenders. In Bridgwater, Somerset, where the crime rate is 53% higher than anywhere else in the South West of England, we have worked with a youth charity, Key4Life, to help keep at risk young men out of prison. Where the national reoffending rate in the first year after release from prison is 64%, just 16% of participants in Key4Life reoffend. Our team at the Northgate Yard project arranged work placements that led to training that has helped four men find employment in the Bridgwater area.

Boosting employability

In 2022, we continued to deliver on our Now or Never ambition to help people facing societal or personal barriers access good careers.

Supporting young people

We were proud supporters of the Government’s Kickstart programme and have former participants in the scheme now working full-time in our business. In 2022, we created 16 six-month work placements to help 16-24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment gain experience in the construction industry. Of those placements, nine were with our Interiors business, including Matthew Jarvis, who works on our Soho Theatre project in Walthamstow as an Assistant Project Administrator.

“Willmott Dixon Interiors has helped me with my career as I have learnt how to work in a team of many people with different roles which is very significant in any type of job,” said Matthew.

In 2022, we also recruited our first individual from the Kickstart scheme into the business, with Reuben Sullivan (below) taken on, initially as a trainee labourer, with a view to specialise in mechanical and electrical services.

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Women in construction

To help encourage more women into careers in construction and bring greater gender parity we offered two-week work placements on our Gascoigne site in East London and at locations across the capital (pictured below). The placements focused on skills such as document control, decorating, quality assurance, health and safety and site management.

Our six-week Women into Construction programme supported 22 aspiring women to sample life in the construction industry, with many gaining full-time employment as a result. The programme was delivered in partnership with Women into Construction, an independent not-for-profit organisation that promotes gender equality in construction, our supply chain partners, and Capital City College Training (CCCT).

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Supporting people with disabilities

We work to support people with disabilities overcome barriers to employment and tackle workforce inequality. As a disability confident employer, we support people facing barriers into sustainable careers, like Mikey, who attends Woodlands SEND School, in Coleshill in Warwickshire. What started as a one-week placement turned into a year-long paid internship for Mikey after he showed a huge increase in confidence in the workforce.

Claire Dougan, Careers & Work experience coordinator at Woodlands School, said: "The change in Mikey over the past 10 months has been astounding. His time management, organisational skills and confidence has come on leaps and bounds! This is a perfect example of why these work experience placements and internships are invaluable to our students."

Our Green Villages Programme with students at Heart of Birmingham Vocational College (below) helped students to develop teamwork skills, build confidence and hone their presentation skills. Over a five-week period, 15 students were tasked with creating their own construction company and taking on a specific responsibility to cost, plan, design and build a Green Village, with environmental impact considered, as well as sustainable essentials for each house in the village. At the end of the five weeks, the students presented their village to a panel of people who work for our Interiors business.


The Our People section in our review details further how our business is improving diversity and equal opportunity directly.

Working with schools and colleges to attract the next generation

Willmott Dixon’s enrichment programme reached a significant milestone in 2022, as the 1,000th participant completed the six-week course. The programme, developed with the University of Birmingham in 2016, gives pupils between years 7 and 10 the chance to try out a range of construction and workplace-related activities, supporting their STEM education and the Career Gatsby Benchmark requirements for schools and colleges. Read the full story here or watch the video below to find out more.

Across our projects, Willmott Dixon people engage with schools in the community, as well as further and higher education providers to provide training and advice around employment. For instance, Charlotte and Ed, both construction T level students at Exeter College, who we supported to gain site experience work placements, were offered places on Willmott Dixon’s management trainee programme and started in September 2022. Our work with Bridgwater & Taunton College provided work placements and delivered classroom learning, and saw Willmott Dixon named T level Employer of the Year 2022 by the college.

A legacy of our Stevenage Bus Interchange project, completed in Autumn 2021, has seen Willmott Dixon people from our London and East team return to deliver employability training at Barclay School for the second year running. The training including mock interview and CV writing sessions, delivered £114k Social Return On Investment (SROI) for Stevenage Borough Council.


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