Social Value for Future Proofing

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

We recently co-hosted a breakfast seminar with Westminster Business Council that addressed why building social value in the work place makes good business sense and how it can help to future-proof skills and professions within the property and construction sector. Appropriately held in the heart of Westminster at Landsec’s Victoria offices, we were proud to have Landsec sponsor the event.

The purpose of the event was to share the Social Value initiatives and benefits experienced by a range of companies – large and small – working in Westminster. By showcasing the breadth of programmes and support that is readily available locally as well, we hoped to inspire and encourage firms to participate and generate even more career opportunities for young people. As Elizabeth Crowther-Hunt, CEO of Westminster Business Council, who opened the event explained, “by providing education and training opportunities for young people, we are giving them the tools they need to lead the way in the built environment of tomorrow”.

We invited speakers to the panel from Westminster City Council, Landsec, Sir Robert McAlpine and the Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC, and they openly shared what Social Value goals and targets their organisations have set and the creative initiatives that they have implemented to achieve these goals.

We wish to thank all of our supporters and speakers for contributing to the event;

  • Co-chairs, Christine Baldwin, Head of Portfolio Management and Ben Anderson Community Manager, London from Landsec, and Elizabeth Crowther-Hunt CEO Westminster Business Council
  • Lakhraj Minhas, Heart of the City Westminster Manager, Westminster City Council
  • Neil Pennell, Head of Design, Innovation and Property Solutions and Ian Burr, Head of Property Management, Landsec
  • Bruce Nixon, Community Manager London, Sir Robert McAlpine
  • Fiona Clark, Practice Director, David Miller Architects
  • Antonia Evans, Headteacher, Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC

as well as the Social Value creators who supported us; Supply Chain School, City of Westminster College, University of Westminster, Class of Your Own, Westminster City Council Business Unit, Heart of the City.

Judging by the energy in the room and the impassioned Q&A session and feedback, we believe it made its mark. Grace Bradley – Partner at Potter Raper Partnership captured this perfectly;

“WHAT A GREAT EVENT! It really was an inspirational morning. Congratulations to the organisers and the speakers whose enthusiasm and commitment to this cause was evident and clearly demonstrated that Social Value isn’t just a tick-box exercise, but well worth embracing!”.

To find out more about how your organisation can get involved in delivering Social Value and creating career opportunities for young people, contact our DMA Practice Manager, Jessica Moore at


For more information on what was discussed, read on:-

At DMA, Social Value is more than just two words that are often associated with diversity and providing equal opportunities, it is something that runs through the very heart of our practice. It is part of our ethos and plays a major role in how we work and connect with our team, clients and the wider community and a large part of this is about creating the opportunity for young people to join our industry.  As a practice we offer apprenticeships, work experience weeks and we work closely with dedicated Social Value creation organisations such as Class of Your Own, Heart of the City and Supply Chain School, which offer education and training programmes to support schools, colleges and universities as well as businesses.

DMA Practice Director, Fiona Clark said in her presentation; “As an SME we can create as much impact as the larger corporations. Our Social Value strategy allows us to reflect the needs of not just the wider industry, but our local community and our efforts in ethical and responsible delivery means that we try to level the playing field for everyone to realise their ambitions.”

“We’re a technology led practice so we actively seek out, and help to generate, digital-natives in new recruits. By providing opportunities for young people to have a taste of a career in construction and showcase what, to most is a whole new world, it is very exciting and we can all play a part in educating and training new, young construction professionals”.

These sentiments were echoed by Bruce Nixon, Community Manager London for Sir Robert McAlpine: “Often we hear how the skills gap is one of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry today. However too much of the focus to date has been on analysing the underlying problems of the gap, with insufficient emphasis on the solutions necessary to do something about it. We, and the other members of the panel today are taking positive action to create these needed solutions, one of which is harnessing the boundless enthusiasm of our younger generations.”

“With the increasing need to meet client requirements on new project bids, businesses cannot afford to be ignoring Social Value. It is essential to demonstrate how additional value has been created in the delivery of a service contract which has a wider community or public benefit. Partnering with education and training programmes is one way to meet these requirements”.

Neil Pennell, Head of Design, Innovation and Product Solutions for Landsec supported the need to work in collaboration with education providers and like Sir Robert McAlpine, Landsec form one of seven partners of the Employer Alliance for the Sir Simon Milton Westminster UTC.

Neil explained: “We really struggle to find people for science and engineering roles. Great opportunities exist in these areas and are available for young people to step into. We need new people who understand technology and the UTC is the perfect resource to enable these missing skills to filter into the construction industry”.

Landsec provide the UTC students with a unique introduction to the property and construction industry with a range a business challenges. Students have the chance to take part in Landsec Combined Work Placements and apply to its Trainee Academy. The business works with its trainees to assist them in securing a permanent role within Landsec following the programme – to date it has appointed eight trainees from its programme into permanent jobs.

Elizabeth closed the seminar with a pertinent take-away, that failure to generate new skills in our industry will be catastrophic.

“There is currently a great deal of exceptional talent in the property and construction sector, and indeed in Westminster alone, therefore we have an obligation to maintain this level of excellence, and the only way to safe-guard this is by investing time and resources into nurturing and perfecting the skill sets we need to secure the success of the digital built environment.”