Martin's Story

Two men talking to each other

Martin Gallagher is the director of the GPL Group, a civil engineering company based in Salford.

Throughout the last two years, Martin has been working with Talent Coach Graham Cooper at The Broughton Trust to run an apprenticeship programme for ten young people from the area, all of whom had a number of barriers to employment.

Whilst Martin provides the training and apprenticeships, Graham offers intensive, one-to-one support to each young person to support them on their journey.

The model has been an astounding success with a 100% success rate amongst the participants. A success that Martin puts down to working alongside Graham in the community.


Impact on young people.

Martin first started working with Graham and the Broughton Trust to help fill a skills gap in his workforce. As with many businesses in the construction industry, GPL had a lack of skilled and semi-skilled workers following the industry decline at the turn of the century.

Martin said, “Before we were introduced to Graham, we didn’t even know these organisations were out there. We told Graham the type of people we wanted, gave them role descriptions and we set up a training programme.”

Graham said, “When Martin told me what they wanted I was amazed because it was a targeted approach. We didn’t look at the ‘cream of the crop’. In fact, we went the other way. We looked at people who were furthest from the market, have real life experiences, who really needed that chance.”

As with any model of this kind, Martin did have reservations to begin with, he explains; “To be honest, at the start, it did seem like a lot of work. We knew we had to do something, and at the start it was a mindset of ‘we have to do this and if we don’t put up with the hassle then it’ll fail, the company will fail and the industry will fail’. What made it easier for us was that we had someone like Graham there to support the young people along the way”.


Martin with the apprentices taken on by GPLIntensive local support.

What made the model work was the intensive support for the young people gained by working alongside Graham in the community.

Graham said, “It wasn’t easy. To begin with, I focused on getting them to understand that this is an ideal opportunity for them. They were finding for the first time that they were capable of doing stuff like everyone else. The motivation became really easy for me, as they started looking at what they could lose.

“My role throughout the work and beyond is to offer that support. I am there to support them in their lives so that GPL can get on with the apprenticeship side of things.”

Martin added, “We’re grateful to Graham and the Broughton Trust for the part they’ve played in this. If we were to have done this ourselves, the turnover of people would have been huge and it wouldn’t have been successful. You need to work with those with links into the community.”

Graham concluded, “In a close-knit community such as Salford, working with GPL has benefitted us both. We have young people who need jobs; GPL have social value policies they need to meet, they have skills gaps they need to fill. It’s a no-brainer.”


Bringing value back into the business.

The model not only benefited to the young people and the community, but brought immediate benefits to GPL as a business too.

Within a few weeks of completing their training, several of the young people were employed by GPL’s clients, bringing value back into the business and paying for themselves.

The model was such a success that GPL are running it again, and this time Graham has even more time to prepare his young people for the opportunity.


Developing and retaining talent.

Martin is keen to get more businesses following the same model and understanding the myriad of benefits it can bring.

He said, “If you do it right, you’ll see the benefits after a couple of months. You’re not getting somebody who’s been at another company and has a different way of working. You’re molding them into your way doing things. I’m hoping that some of these guys will still be working with us in ten years.”


Improving the local economy.

Martin speaking to two menAs the focus of tenders brings Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) more into focus, it is becoming more important for local businesses to be able to showcase their commitment to social responsibility.

Martin explains, “Social Value is playing a big part in the way we tender for work. Manchester City Council have brought out a new tender framework and 20% of the tender is around social value. It’s a big chunk of that tender and firms are starting to realise that.”

As a result of the work, Graham has carried out a cost benefit analysis where he estimates that the model has brought over half a million pounds into the local economy.

He said, “The impact in my area of Salford is massive. The ten kids are all from this area. The money they are making, they’re spending in this area. The impact isn’t only about the young men who are now working, it’s also about improving the local economy.”


Sharing what we’ve learnt.

As a result of the work with GPL, Graham has been speaking to other local businesses about repeating the model within their organisations.

Martin said, “The whole process was an eye-opener for us. Not only the impact it would have on their lives, but the impact it would have on us. It’s filled the gap in industry and there’s a model there that needs to be shared. We can’t keep it to ourselves. It does work.”

If you are interested in finding out more about the work and how you could implement it within your organisation, please contact us.

Read more stories from people involved in Greater Manchester Talent Match by clicking here.