Local Steel and Cladding company, KR Group, has won the Community Award hosted by the Federation of Small Business UK.

Thanks to their charitable and social initiatives, in particular their work with young people in the Northeast, the local business was named as Scottish finalists earlier this year. In March, they attended the FSB finals in Glasgow and ultimately won the category.

“We were delighted to attend as finalists and for our efforts to be recognised on this level. To win was a very proud moment for us and our team,” explains Nicola, KR Group Business Director. “Thank you to FSB for championing small businesses in this way, it’s a great reminder that what we do is making an impact.”

FSB is a not-for-profit organisation committed to supporting all small business owners and the self-employed in the UK. The annual FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards recognises small businesses leading the way in various categories including Sustainability, Service Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion, and more.

KR Group was initially founded as KR Steel in 2003 by husband-and-wife Kenny Robertson and Nicola Fraser. Having each grown up in remote Aberdeenshire surrounded by farming and fishing communities, they are passionate about giving young people from remote areas or working-class backgrounds opportunities to find fulfilling careers.

A long-standing value of the business is to give the next generation a ‘step up’ and provide them with the resources they need to do well in life. This is nurtured through their business practices and is something they say all employees feel strongly about. Most of their employees – especially those in ‘earn and learn’ roles – are active and engaged in working with other young people and schools.

KR Group has signed up to the ‘Young Persons Guarantee’ and works regularly with Developing the Young Workforce, regularly contributing to their events and initiatives.

DYW Northeast Director says: "KR Group staff are excellent ambassadors for the construction sector and wonderful champions of engaging with young people. For a small business, they provide a tremendous amount of support for the next generation."

Aside from their work with DYW, KR Group is in regular contact with dozens of local schools, colleges, universities, and community groups to share industry knowledge and promote the construction sector through project and activity engagement.

A representative of Ellon Academy explains: “Whether it be providing weeklong work placements for our S4 pupils, supporting our senior pupils with extended, flexible work placements, or delivering presentations during our Careers Convention regarding potential career pathways and opportunities within the industry, KR Group has been there to answer the call whenever we have needed them.”

They continue: “It would be no exaggeration to say that for some of our young people, their experience with KR Group has been life changing.”

KR Group aims to offer as many opportunities as possible themselves, be that through Apprenticeships, Modern Apprenticeships, Traineeships, Internships, Graduate placements, and work experience. At least 18% of KR Group’s workforce is in ‘earn and learn’ roles. They have also taken on ‘Kickstart’ placements, giving people the chance to get back into work following periods of unemployment.

In 2023, KR Group decided to encompass these initiatives into a dedicated segment of their business and in March, ‘KRedit Project’ launches.

Nicola says “With KRedit, we’ve levelled up, introducing structured support and learning pathways for children and young adults at various stages in their journey. I’m excited to see where it takes us.”

In May 2023, FSB invites all category winners to a UK-wide final hosted in Birmingham. KR Group looks forward to joining fellow category winners when the time comes. In the meantime, they will continue to educate, upskill, and empower children and young adults through KRedit, leading the way for small businesses in Scotland.

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