WM Donald picked up the Staff Matter award at this year's Northern Star Business Awards, and were presented the title by sponsors Bancon Group.

W M Donald is the largest civil engineering contractor in North-east Scotland. Its head office in Stonehaven is supported by regional offices in Inverness and Perth and it has a skilled and dedicated workforce of 227, with a further 80 subcontractors.

It counts many national and regional housebuilders amongst its clients and undertakes complex enabling and infrastructure works to provide developers with a prepared and serviced site on which to build their properties. W M Donald also delivers commercial construction, bulk earthworks, utilities, flood defences and sewer renewal works.

The UK construction workforce is ageing and the current rate of retirement of tradespeople is going to create a drought of skills. In addition, the skills required of engineers and plant operators are also changing fast with the development and introduction of new technologies such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) for surveying and Virtual Augmented Reality (VAR) planning.

Over the last three years, in particular, the firm has been committed to investing in employee development to ensure it has the workforce to deliver its business growth objectives across a wider geographical area.

There are several strands to W M Donald Ltd’s approach to employee development. A key initiative has been the creation of the W M Donald Ltd Apprenticeship Scheme and it now has 25 apprentices, 12% of the workforce. Each apprentice has a site mentor and is encouraged to engage in extra-curricular activities such as making presentations in schools or mental health training. The company has also recruited a cohort of recently qualified graduates who are continuing their training in areas such as quantity surveying, construction management and purchasing and supply. As a result of these steps and others,

the average age of the workforce has dropped from 39 in 2019 to 36 in 2022.

The construction workforce is ageing, technology is changing rapidly, and W M Donald Ltd is growing. W M Donald Ltd is ensuring potential skills shortages are addressed through a combination of training and development and focussed recruitment.

To foster an interest in construction among younger generations, W M Donald Ltd has delivered skills days for S3 and S5 students at local academies. It was invited by The Wood Foundation to contribute to the

Excelerate “School Leaver Profile” event to determine the skills, attributes and competencies a young person should develop during their time at school. It was also a major participant in the “Lift Off & Grow” programme created by Aberdeen City Council and DYW North East (Developing the Young Workforce).

The finalists

The other finalists in the category were:

  • Rubberatkins
  • ITI Operations Limited
  • Hilton and Aloft Aberdeen TECA
  • Acumen Financial Planning

Click here to view the finalists video.

About the sponsor

Bancon Group is one of the foremost homebuilders in the North-east of Scotland. It’s strong reputation is based on high quality with customers at the heart of the design. Founded in 1975, the Bancon Group has grown from a small estate Joiner business into one of the North-east’s leading Construction and House building Companies.

More like this…

View all