A royal welcome - Royal Engineers complete placement on our Birmingham sites

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Ian Zhong
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A team of operatives

In April, our site teams in Birmingham, UK, welcomed three Royal Engineers students for a six-week placement, offering insight into civilian construction practice and the opportunity to consolidate learning and skills. The students are in the final phases of their Military Clerk of Works training and in achieving a Batchelor of Engineering (BEng) qualification in their respective disciplines.

Sgts Thakali and Thapa joined our team on the HMP Birmingham upgrade for the Ministry of Justice. Sgt Bagnucki joined our team working on the Birmingham Council House refurbishment, being delivered for Birmingham City Council through the Construction West Midlands framework.

The British Army’s Corps of Royal Engineers, commonly known as the Sappers, provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces. The Royal Engineers learning and development programmes are facilitated through through a number of partners, and in the case of the Clerk of Works courses, these are accredited by the University of Greenwich. 

"It has also enhanced my collaboration and communication skills and I have a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of construction, refurbishment and maintenance. This knowledge will be invaluable for future Defence Infrastructure Organisation deployments."

Sgt Thakali

At HMP Birmingham, the project is in its early stages, so the works have been focused on managing the strip out elements and external brickwork. Sgts Thakali and Thapa shadowed the senior site manager and building services manager respectively, with tasks including quality inspections, input into design meetings, reviewing infrastructure pressure tests, and managing sub-contractor surveys.

Sgt Thakali commented on the ‘massive benefits’ from the placement, and Sgt Thapa added that it was a ‘true highlight’. The engineers’ cited ‘adaptability and flexibility’ as skills they built on.

Sgt Thakali said: “It has also enhanced my collaboration and communication skills and I have a deeper understanding of the practical aspects of construction, refurbishment and maintenance. This knowledge will be invaluable for future Defence Infrastructure Organisation deployments.”

Sgt Thapa added: “An aspect that truly fascinated me was the renovation of the 19th century building. This project posed significant challenges and witnessing the complexities involved was eye-opening. The skills I have acquired will undoubtedly support my future military career.” 

Working in a building

Over at the refurbishment of the Birmingham Council House complex, Sgt Bagnucki shadowed the building services manager, and was able to support on resolving outstanding issues/snagging, electrical safety audits and testing, quality inspections, and the issue of electrical access permits.

Sgt Bagnucki commented: “This experience has given me the opportunity to put into practice the recently learnt technical engineering knowledge which in turn will shortly be required in demanding circumstances. It also tested the main benefit of employing a Royal Engineer which is clear, concise people management and critical thinking under pressure.”

Our building services managers certainly saw the benefits of the placements for construction, with Jamie Horwood, commenting: "Royal Engineers bring very enthusiastic personalities, they are quick to learn processes and are very professional. Our placement students were very involved, worked well with the sub-contractor teams, and built a very good rapport across site and within the office."

Jason Hurley added: “Royal Engineers can provide significant support to construction teams. Sgt Bagnucki has been extremely helpful in assisting me with the numerous daily tasks required and eased the burden at a very important time in the project.”

ISG’s wider commitment to defence has been recognised as part of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, showing our support for the men and women who make up the armed forces community.

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