Don’t Let Opportunities Go to Waste

Woman can bring different perspectives and new ideas to the job and be positive role models to other women.

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Developing the Young Workforce, Ayrshire team visited Barr Environmental Limited and met with Helanna Cooper, 20 year old Environmental Technician. Helanna kindly agreed to take part in short interview where she tells us about her experience from leaving school to getting to where she is today.

Helanna left school and went to college to study Construction Management. In her time at college, she also worked part time in retail at BHS. Helanna finished college and took the opportunity to get involved in The Princes Trust ‘Get into’ Programme, doing Construction Engineering with Barr. This programme is designed for 16 to 25 year olds to get the experience and training they need to move into a job. After the 4 week training programme came to an end Barr picked so many trainees to join their team, Helanna being one of them.

Helenna is now a full time Trainee Environmental Technician at Barr where she works on landfill sites monitoring everything from gases to surface waters. She wants to progress her career in the Waste Management Industry and hopes to inspire more woman to consider a career in Waste Management.

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Interview with Gavin Money, Commercial Director Barr Environmental Limited

Whilst at Barr we met with Commercial Director Gavin Money, he tells us about himself and why he thinks it’s important to consider young people in the world of work.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

Gavin Money, 36, Company Director and have been with Barr for 2 years. Prior to Barr I worked in both the engineering and software industries for 10 and 4 years respectively.

Tell us a bit about your organisation?

Barr have operated in waste management for 20 years. The business was initially established to support the Group’s management of waste from construction related projects but has developed significantly over the last two decades. The business now operates four sites across the West of Scotland which processes, recycles and where necessary disposes of a various of waste streams which includes household waste, garden waste and construction/demolition waste. 60% of our business stems from working with local authorities where in addition to managing their waste we also operate household waste recycling centres specifically at Heathfield in Ayr for South Ayrshire Council and at Garlaff, Skares for East Ayrshire Council. We currently employ 54 people across all our sites.

Why did you choose a career in Waste Management?

I didn’t necessarily choose a career in waste management. Having grown up in Ayr and now back living in the region I was keen to join a strong local brand and Barr provided me with this opportunity. However, now I’m involved in the industry I thoroughly enjoy it!

Do you currently employ any young people between the ages of 16 and 24?

Yes, we employ two young people. Both of whom joined the business in September 2014 and now have important roles in our company. They are Helanna Cooper, our Site Technician at Garlaff and Ross Conquer, our Weighbridge Operator at Auchencarroch.

What have you found to be the benefits of employing a young person?

We have found them to bring an eagerness and willingness to learn together with a positive, can do attitude, which we find very encouraging.

Why would you encourage other businesses to recruit young people?

I am sure there will be, at some point in a business’s development, a real need to recruit new talent into the organisation.

Specifically, though, recruiting a young person provides a business the opportunity to shape and mould the relevant and specific skills required that may not necessarily be achieving with time served individuals.

What advice would you give to other employers who may be considering taking on a young person?

Be committed to the process – this should not be a box ticking exercise – it’s a young person’s life you are supporting to shape.

Ensure you have clarity of thought and a clear career path for the young person with relevant in-company skills development supplemented by external qualifications, which clearly requires ongoing investment. I would also ensure that an employer has a support network and mentoring scheme in place so that the young people has someone to talk to about their development. Communicate clearly and manage expectations.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

The diversity of the role. Dealing with a range of commercial, operational and regulatory opportunities in a very dynamic industry and environment.

What part of your job do you least enjoy?

There can be a number of reports and forms to complete/review due to the nature of our industry and the way it is regulated. Sometimes commonly in approach could help.

Do you offer Work Experience?

Yes, we do. We have a work experience student joining our business shortly for a number of months as part of their university program and studies.

What skills do you look for in a Young Person?

We would tend to focus on their attitude rather than aptitude initially. We look for energy, enthusiasm, punctuality and attentiveness. We can teach and develop skills but without the right positive thinking and attitude it will be challenging to succeed and reach your full potential.

What do you feel a Young Person brings to your business?

An unbiased view on how we operate. Energises the work place.

What advice would you give to a young person wanting to start a career in Waste Management?

Roles with waste management are rarely pinned to an office desk so be prepared to get out and about in all conditions and environments.

Research and read about Scotland’s targets in managing waste and how it plans to do it. There are numerous sources of information like Zero Waste Scotland, Recycle of Scotland, Scottish Government and your local authority.

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