Barnsley firm give entire staff new horizons in lockdown

7th May 2020

A Barnsley-based leader in the UK’s measurement and mapping industry swiftly weighed up its options when Covid-19 lockdown struck - and got all members of its team learning new skills online.

Multi-faceted surveying company 1st Horizon has organised online training for all staff, including 26 furloughed under the Government scheme and staff and stakeholders working from home.

Training is being provided by The Source Skills Academy. A registered charity and leading Sheffield training provider, The Source rapidly went online after lockdown forced closure of its conference and training centre on Meadowhall Way.

Its team is striving to ensure companies across the SCR can use shutdown time to boost workers’ skills.

For many SMEs, the training can be entirely funded from the SCR Skills Bank or the Skills Support for the Workforce pot, supplied by the Education and Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund.

“When we heard we could get free training for staff during lockdown, it made perfect sense,” said 1st Horizon’s HR manager Sophia Massarella.

“CPD has always been really important to us. Many of our staff are young and came to us fresh from college.

“They are very committed to learning and we feel a responsibility to keep them engaged and focused at this difficult time, especially those who are furloughed. The anticipation of not knowing when you’re going back to work can be very unsettling.

All employees took up the opportunity to study and 1st Horizon says staff are really enjoying the mental stimulation and focus, said Sophia who, along with three colleagues, signed up to study for a certificate in Business Improvement Techniques.

Based at The Old Pop Factory on High Street in Dodworth,

1st Horizon was founded in 2006 by land surveyor Jim Garside, and worked with construction and petrochemical industries, carrying out conventional land surveys for gas pipelines and large-scale civil projects.

By predicting market trends, the company found opportunities to innovate and today it specialises in 3D laser scanning, utility location, CCTV surveys, UAV surveys and mobile mapping.

The company was going through a period of growth when Covid-19 hit the UK and had to put a recruitment drive on ice.

“We are looking forward to resuming our recruitment initiative as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted, and we will be coming out of this with more rounded staff,” said Sophia. “We have 11 studying for a certificate in Team Leadership and three working for a qualification in Data Protection.

“Twelve staff are studying Awareness of Mental Health Problems, which we see as very important to all employers, particularly those with a young and predominantly male workforce.”

Dale Robinson, Business Development Director at The Source commented: “The team at 1st Horizon realised the value of training at this time; it re-enforces self-worth and maintains focus.

“They seized the opportunity and we urge other companies to follow their lead.”

Furloughed staff can complete their work quickly and study for a second qualification under full funding.

The Source has over 70 courses on offer, online training materials are accessible seven days a week and tutors are available 12 hours a day via video conferences and interactive platforms. A team of administrators and support workers are also on hand.

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