Leading support services and construction company Carillion was among the winners of the 2012 Guardian Sustainable Business Awards (GSBAs) at a prestigious award ceremony in London.
Now in their second year, the GSBAs highlight leadership in the field of sustainable business and encourage organisations to share best practice. Carillion won in the best "Social Impact" category for its work as Birmingham City Council's construction partner on the new Library of Birmingham.
The £188m landmark project in the city's Centenary Square has created a blueprint for how to integrate benefits to Birmingham's most hard-hit residents: the homeless, the young and the unemployed.
Central to the building of this unique, state-of-the-art library, are on-site apprenticeships, placements and a goal to help 250 local people back to work, create up to 75 on-site apprenticeships and 30 places for the homeless under the Business Action on Homelessness (BAOH) through the Ready for Work programme. The 250 jobs target is set to deliver taxpayers a saving of £6.25m.
Working with Birmingham City Council's Employment Access Team (EAT), the apprenticeship opportunities target some of the hardest to reach groups across the city. With EAT, the Carillion team was also able to apply for and become a registered National Skills Academy for Construction. It's the first stand-alone project where Carillion has been able to achieve this, and Carillion says being able to provide an on-site training centre and NVQ courses, including basic skills as well as CV writing and self confidence workshops, bring huge benefits.
Carillion was also praised for creating a best practice and sustainability legacy that will last long after the doors open.
Simon Dingle, Carillion's Operations Director on the Library of Birmingham, said: "Right from the start we have worked in close partnership with Birmingham City Council to ensure this project is a positive experience for Birmingham throughout the construction phase and that we leave a legacy of valuable training and apprenticeship opportunities for local people. It's also been a genuine team effort with full cooperation right across our supply chain. Carillion is recognised as being a leading sustainable business - and doing everything we can to support sustainable communities is a key part of this."
The Guardian judges specifically liked the focus on skills and employability. They described the project as "striking", "fantastic" and "groundbreaking", liked how the project exceeded its own objectives and genuinely believed that the approaches in this project are built into how Carillion does business. They felt the level of commitment shown to tackle such challenging issues was extensive.
Other winners on the night included Sainsbury''s who picked up awards for Carbon and Energy; The Co-operative Group who won the Communicating Sustainability category for their Join the Revolution campaign; SABMiller who won both the Water and Collaboration awards and Veja and Marks & Spencer who were jointly presented with the Supply Chain award.