Stuart is responsible for all elements of HR & Industrial Relations, both internal and externally for 1st Step Solutions, developing the employment strategy and delivery for clients and staff alike.
He entered the employee & industrial relations career path in 1998, having previously worked in motor manufacturing in the North West. His IR experience took him into the Construction Industry in 1999, and he rapidly gained experience on many sides of the Industrial Relations, working with Trade Unions, mediation bodies and employers associations, before becoming the Head of Labour Relations for a major M&E contractor in the UK. Stuart offers a wealth of experience which complements the services 1st Step provide.
Outside of work, Stuart is actively involved as a football coach for the Plumpton Athletic Juniors football team in his hometown of Plumpton, East Sussex. He is married with a Daughter and Son, and rarely can be called a glory hunter supporting his beloved Everton FC.
At 1st Step, we are proud of our record in employing people based on their ability to do their job and for promoting a diverse workforce. Our latest statistics back up our efforts! Looking at our entire workforce of 50 employees, 60.4% of 1st Step employees are women, some of whom are now 40% of our senior team - almost treble what it was just 4 years ago. In terms of ethnic diversity, employees from a BAME ethnicity now represent 35.4% of our workforce. We believe that our ongoing growth and success is based on our ambition to have people working for us who have the ability to succeed, alongside having a workforce that is as diverse as the communities it represents. It's good to #bea1ststepper
Saturday 17th August 2019 will mark the four-year anniversary of the passing of our friend and former Managing Director, Max White. Not only did Max join 1st Step on day one back in September 2004 and become a bedrock of what we are about, but he became a close friend and colleague to everyone he worked with – colleagues, clients and industry associates alike. He had an aura of calm and sensibleness that belied his years and instilled confidence in people he met. Many of our current colleagues at 1st Step didn’t meet Max, but every single employee that works for 1st Step understands the impact he had on our business, embedding our business ethics and vision for how we operate as a business. Even though time has passed, his memory has not faded and he is still the talking point of everyday conversations. Max succumb to cancer, after a long and hard battle during which he decided to devote his time to his campaign “Live Life to the Max”, which aimed to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. He thought that whatever life he had left, he wanted to live it the best way he could, alongside his daughter Ellie who he adored. He said that it was as important to understand the work Cancer Research UK do to help people live with cancer as it is to try and find a cure. This is why we will continuously support Live Life to the Max and Cancer Research UK as our charity of choice, to honour his legacy. Many of our 1st Step colleagues continue to follow his mantra of Live Life to the Max, facing their fears such as zip wires, abseils and skydives all in aid of honouring his memory whilst raising vital funds for this most worthy of causes. We ask that you join us in raising a glass to celebrate Max’s life this Saturday, 17th August and take a photo and post it on Instagram with #llttm and tag @1st.step.solutions and @cr_uk for Cancer Research UK. Raising awareness and remembering Max is Live Life to the Max (his was always a Guinness!)
Despite recent monthly recruitment monitoring from KMPG and the REC in the UK reporting an ongoing decrease in the availability of candidates across the permanent and temporary markets, we are embracing the challenge, confident that we have the relationships in place with candidates and clients to make the most of this opportunity. The permanent market shows a decrease in the availability of permanent staff of 25.4%, higher than the 22% in April. In the temporary market, the decrease in availability is showing the same trend, with a 14.4% drop in availability, compared with 12.2% drop in April. 1st Step’s Managing Director, Les Fillery said “Although 1st Step has bucked this trend in the same time period, the latest statistics from KMPG and REC bare out what we have been hearing in our conversations with clients and candidates. Uncertainty in the current economic and political climate is having an impact on the jobs market, both in terms of the availability of candidates and the salary expectations of those looking to move, but with the experience of our team, we are seeing this as a positive challenge.” Average starting salaries for permanent staff have increased further in May, with on average increases being at around 17.8%, whilst the temporary/contractor market has seen pay rates increase by around 18%. This trending scarcity of availability has had a significant impact on the “market rates” for new recruits. Analysing the report, REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry said “The jobs market is still creating opportunities for those looking for work. With vacancies rising and starting salaries going up sharply, it is worth people talking to recruiters about the next step in their career.” Our Associate Director, Davinia Farr believes that this gives more reason for candidates and clients to continue to put their faith in 1st Step. “We have excellent relationships with our clients and candidates alike, with my team having industry knowledge that is second to none. We understand what each stakeholder in the recruitment process is looking for, and never forget the ‘consultant’ part of our job.” Davinia advises that “the key to anyone thinking about a move, is to work with a recruiter that wants to understand you and the kind of business you want to work with or the projects you want to work upon. We can then marry this up with the clients we think are best suited to what you want to do. By maintaining close ties with our clients, we understand better than most their internal culture and values, and what kind of candidates they would want to see. 1st Step is not in the game of mass-CV mailshots, but of cultivating the right opportunities for both parties.”
1st Step Solutions Ltd are pleased to announce the acquisition of Wells Brooks Associates Ltd, a leading provider of healthcare recruitment solutions both in the UK and internationally. As part of the acquisition, we welcome their Managing Director, Lara Cameron-Wells and her team who will be working from our Dartford office. Following the acquisition, Les Fillery (Managing Director) said “we have been in discussions with Wells-Brooks for some time, and are happy that we have managed to finalise this purchase. As with any business, diversification and expansion is necessary for growth; bringing Lara and her team into 1st Step allows us to do that. This purchase is a move away from our traditional construction sector but we have confidence in our staff, in our processes and our culture to make this a success”. Lara has a wealth of experience in providing staff both to the NHS and private healthcare sector, whether that is helping to bring nurses to the UK from international partner countries, through to supporting General Practitioners (GPs) as locum doctors. For more information about Wells-Brooks Associates, visit their website www.wells-brooksassociates.com
Congratulations to Hayley Laurance who recently completed and passed her PTS training on 27th March 2019. Managing Director, Les Fillery said "It's a great achievement for Hayley to become PTS qualified, and further demonstrates her ambition to best serve our clients and candidates. Well done, Hayley!"
The board of directors are pleased to announce that Matthew Williams has been promoted to the role of Associate Director with effect from 10th April 2019. Les Fillery, Managing Director, said “Prior to joining 1st Step Matthew has been in recruitment for 16 years and used his extensive experience to set up and build a presence for us in the South West. During his time with us, Matt has developed his management skills and built an excellent team who continue to provide a first-class service to our clients. Matt leads by example and I’m looking forward to working with him as we continue to develop our core strengths across the business.” Matt’s duties in managing the South West division will continue but he will also assist with the development of our staff and clients across all aspects and divisions of our business. We hope you will join us in congratulating Matt for a fantastic achievement.
At 1st Step, we know that taking care of those around you, supporting them and encouraging people to speak up is important. Talking about mental health is a show of strength, and being prepared for spotting that someone might be suffering mental health issues is a core responsibility for employers. Our Training Manager, Scott Crump has bravely been very open about his progress in dealing with Mental Health, and on his journey to keep progressing and helping others, has become qualified as a Mental Health First Aider. He is now a facilitator, which allows him to deliver Mental Health First Aid courses. You can read below Scott’s very candid blog post about his past issues with mental health, which will help the reader understand how mental health has affected Scott. His aspiration with undertaking the Mental Health First Aid training course, and becoming qualified to deliver the qualifications, is to help others. With 1st Step’s support and backing, he can deliver the Mental Health First Aid Training to our industry. You can contact him for details on the ½ day, 1 day and 2-day Mental Health First Aid courses Scott can offer via firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we make no apologies for publicising our ability to offer these courses, the purpose of this posting is not to driving business, but to continue the message that Mental Health Matters! Follow the hashtag #itsnotallphysical on social media and remember it’s better to talk about mental health than bottle it up inside. Here’s Scott’s blog, first published in May 2018. "Many years ago, and unfortunately still today, if you said you had or have any form of mental health concern or need you were probably looked at as being weak and a failure, but this is not true, you have just reached your limit, and different people have different limits. After 23yrs working as a Special Constable, you get to see a few “things”. Some, unfortunately, do stick with you and resurface after many years of being blocked out. Thankfully these have been identified by me and others and the appropriate support from 1st Step and the constabulary are being offered, and the trigger that started it all off – the smell of gone off food…. For some reason the smell of it gave me flashbacks to a house I entered in December 2015, to find the resident had died some 5 days previous through alcoholism, and the smell from inside the house reminded me of something that had gone off. The smell I can deal with but the graphic images that flash into my head of what I saw in the house are something else. These are the nightmares I have and I live with….. But thanks to a very good support councillor and phenomenal supportive Wife & family, I can now start to talk about it. To start with I did feel I had failed myself, my family and colleagues and I did start to go to a very dark place. I had become withdrawn, angry at the smallest of things and I’d be very quick to explode, this is not normally me. But I am on the slow road to recovery……I WILL get through this and I WILL win, this is a fight that I am determined to not let beat me. I can now see Mental Health as the same as Health & Safety, both need to be looked at and the appropriate support needs to be given to those that need and want it. Please do not bury your head in the sand or brush it under a carpet, let’s talk…… #itsnotallphysical"
1st Step Solutions is proud to be supporting National Apprenticeship week again in 2019. Our Managing Director, Les Fillery recently said "As a business 1st Step has a long-held belief that it is important to support apprenticeships across the industries we serve, which has culminated in us employing apprentices on major infrastructure projects and significant social infrastructure initiatives such as DNRC in Nottinghamshire. We understand our role in promoting the value of apprenticeships for our clients and the wider industry." He added "supporting local education establishments such as Barking & Dagenham College, Havering College and LSEC alongside secondary schools in educating students on the world of work is something has been high on our list of priorities. It was something our former MD, Max White was passionate about and we will continue that legacy on." Shaping Our Future Whilst acknowledging our role externally to the wider industry, Les also reiterated the importance of investing in our own staff through apprenticeships. He said "a lot of people in recruitment join the industry and learn on the job, and there is nothing wrong with that. But there needs to be a clear level of investment in their time and skills to ensure they can reach their potential with the tools they need to do the job. At 1st Step, we are trying to do that via the apprenticeship route to complement the on-the-job training all staff gain along with experience." The apprenticeship programmes for 1st Step are organised and monitored by our HR Manager, Stuart Wallis. At present, we have four apprentices; Nicole Waymont, who is 12 months into an NVQ Level 3 apprenticeship, and we have just started the same qualification through our new provider, Recruitment Juice, for another three apprentices. Stuart said "Nicole is progressing through her apprenticeship and hopes to be completed in 2019. Through our new partnership with Recruitment Juice, we have now started the same process for three other team members; Lee Lewis and Emma Thomas in our Bristol office, and Hayley Laurance in the Rail and Civils division. It is clear to us that through their commitment to the apprenticeship, and our desire to support them with advice, mentoring and guidance, all of our current apprentices can help to shape the future of 1st Step, whilst being an excellent example to those who wish to follow in their shoes." Past Success - Future Leaders Apprentices at 1st Step is not a new thing either. One of our newly promoted Business Managers, Sean Kelly started as an apprentice at 1st Step and he has gone on to grow what is one of our most successful desks. His hard work as an apprentice, which he carried on as a Consultant, has led to his promotion to being a Business Manager with his aims set for higher destinations, something not lost on the Owner & Chairman, Simon Cowdrey. Talking about those taking on the career challenges, Simon said: "There is nothing more pleasing as a business owner than to see people you employ at the beginning of their career go on to grow into ambassadors of your business." He added "I look at my current Directors and see the likes of Sean, Careena Dabbs and Davinia Farr all having carved a career out of being with us, all in different ways. But every single one of them is a shining ambassador for their colleagues across the 1st Step companies in the UK & USA."
Shaping the future of 1st Step continues The board of directors are delighted to announce that Davinia Farr has been promoted to Associate Director with effect from 28th January 2019. Managing Director Les Fillery said, “Davinia has been with the business for over ten years, she has been dedicated to developing her team and division, to the greater good of the entire company and industry. She is a worthy advocate of the title AD and leads by example and I’m looking forward to working with her as we continue to develop our core strengths across the business.” Davinia’s duties in managing the Management and Technical division will continue, supplying candidates to our clients along with her team. Her role will see her also assisting the development of her colleagues at 1st Step and representing all aspects and divisions of 1st Step to the industry. We hope you will join us in congratulating Davinia in this fantastic achievement.
The year 2019 is fast-approaching, and for us, 2019 will be about the foundations of 1st Step; the staff. This year, we have experienced the reshaping of 1st Step, which has been essential in order to contest with the challenges and demands that BREXIT will bring upon us. I hope that despite these obstacles we have maintained career opportunities and the encouragement of progression for everyone at 1st Step. Irrespective of whether a business is a ‘Nike’ or your local corner shop the fundamentals of success remain, it’s with the people – ensuring staff retention, employee engagement and creating a sense of trust and appreciation. Every person within the 1st Step family has an important and equal role to play, both now and in the future. It gives me enormous pleasure when I read the regular staff updates on anniversaries and employment miles reached. I recall one conversation with a staff member, being told that they ‘could never see themselves working anywhere else’. Even one of our Executive Directors celebrating her 15-year service milestone is an enormous achievement. Only this week, we have run an anonymous survey of our staff about their opinions on the business, and the results are very encouraging in terms of communications, progression and people understanding how they fit into the “bigger picture”. Quarter 4 of this year the Board began the project ‘Shaping the Future’ of 1st Step with three newly appointed Executives to the main Board. These appointments provide diversity and perspective in decision making into the direction we head toward in 2019. I can assure that 2019 will bring about even more employee engagement, opportunities, promotions and achievements within the business. We can expect another tough year during 2019 in trading. However, what we all appreciate in recruitment is that every day is as hard as the next. We work in a people’s industry and every conversation, meeting or situation is unlike the last; that’s why we all love what we do. We thrive on challenges. 1st Step has invested hugely in our the future with a new database, compliance, systems and processes. With the continuous support of our staff along with the combined development of the infrastructure, our future is not just looking bright, it’s looking BRIGHT ORANGE!! (excuse the pun!) I know that this Christmas everyone will be treasuring every moment with their family, relaxing, recharging the batteries. I would like to wish all 1st Step staff, clients, candidates and suppliers a wonderful Christmas and I look forward to working with you all in 2019.
Everyone at 1st Step Solutions Ltd & 1st Step Resourcing Inc would like to wish our clients, candidates and friends a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Our offices will remain open until 24th December 2018, following which we will remain closed until 2nd January 2019. Should you need to contact us urgently, please get in touch with your usual representative of 1st Step via their mobile phone.
1st Step Solutions have taken a major step forward in our quest to become the leading aviation construction agency in the UK by becoming approved airside signatories at Gatwick Airport. This means that, as your agency of choice, we can support your business across the airport sector with a security-cleared construction workforce from Labourers to Project Managers. Our Chairman, Simon Cowdrey said "Congratulations to the Heathrow West team on this major achievement." adding "We have always been strong in terms of compliance, so the next natural step for us is to apply this expertise to this area where highly complex security clearance processes are required." Jas Dhunna, Business Manager said, "this is excellent news for 1st Step, and credit must go to Laila Haddad for her hard work in getting this over the line." She added "We are renowned for our customer service, which we are very proud of. It is a testament to this that our clients were willing to support our application, so a huge thank you to them, too." For more information on working for 1st Step at either Gatwick or Heathrow Airports, please call us on 01753 708988 or email email@example.com and speak to Jas, Laila or Stuart
I am delighted to announce that 1st Step has launched a new office based at Heathrow West This brings two innovative divisions to support the construction industry. We have enlisted a specialist team to clear and pass candidate’s airside for both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, directed by our new Recruitment Manager, Laila Haddad. What’s more, within Heathrow West, we have further new division focusing on the recruitment of construction trades within the M25 and South East. This team will be headed up by our newly appointed Business Manager, Jas Dhunna. The 1st Step vision is to create a platform that allows our employees to excel; both externally for our clients, but also in their own personal development and career progression. It goes without saying that the staff at 1st Step are what leads and drives our business. The growth & development of our 1st Step family is equally as important as the growth of our business.
Our colleagues Katherine Castellanos and Anthony Isidro were last night in attendance at the 11th Annual Construction Financial Management Awards at the Crest Hollow Country Club, Woodbury, New York. At the event, Ed Harms, Managing Partner of Island Companies and Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive were honored as Construction Executives of the Year. Katherine, Branch Manager for 1st Step in New York, said "it was a great pleasure to attend the CFMA awards in their 11th Annual event. It was not only a great opportunity to network with some of the largest construction companies around the NYC area, but it was also raising awareness for a great cause in supporting Contractors for Kids". Katherine added "I would once again like to thank Keisha and Danielle for the invitation and also congratulate Ed Harms on receiving the construction Executive of the Year. We look forward to supporting future events and furthering the brand name of 1st Step".
We are pleased to welcome two new employees to our Heathrow West office, which houses our airports and Construction Trades division covering London and the South East. Laila Haddad, Recruitment Manager Laila joins as our Recruitment Manager, and she brings with her a wealth of experience in providing security cleared personnel to the South East's main airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. With a background in recruiting for Construction Tradespersons and M&E personnel, Laila will fit in with the ethos of customer service coming first within 1st Step. Jas Dhunna, Business Manager Jas is our new Business Manager in Heathrow West and will be leading the team in developing 1st Step across London & the South East, leading the ongoing growth of 1st Step, focussing on the structural steel and architectural sectors but with a view to growing the team and what they can offer. Jas has five years experience in recruitment and has a desire to succeed and business acumen that will only serve to deliver excellence for 1st Step in becoming a partner of choice for our clients and candidates. Owner & Chairman, Simon Cowdrey said "adding Jas and Laila to the team is a great move for us and they have already fitted in brilliantly with the rest of 1st Step. Their work ethics and desire to put the clients and candidates first are akin to what has become expected of us by people that work with 1st Step."
We are pleased to announce the opening of our latest office, Heathrow West, with business opening with a flourish today (29 October 2018). The office is based on the Bath Road and will house our dedicated Recruitment Team which specialises in security cleared and passed candidates across London's busiest airports, as well as supplying candidates to our valued clients across London and the South East. Our Owner & Chairman, Simon Cowdrey said "1st Step has been trading for 14 years and has become renowned for excellent customer service, built originally on our footprint across London and the South East. That has spread to the Midlands with our office in Newark, our offices in Bristol and most recently in New York which began our presence in the USA". He added, "We are delighted to have acquired premises and a fantastic new team in the Heathrow West office who will strengthen our resolve and ability to deliver for our clients and candidates alike." The Heathrow West team can be contacted by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01753 708 988.
Chantelle recently joined us at 1st Step Solutions in our Newark office, as part of the Midlands M&E Trades team. Here we find out a little bit more about our new colleague. What was the reason you accepted a position with 1st Step Solutions? Mainly because Mike explained the office dynamics and work ethics of the company, which really fitted with my character and how I like to work. So far, it is living up to expectations! What do you enjoy most about working for 1st Step? The banter in the office, talking to clients and candidates and being part of the team! What would you like to achieve working for 1st Step? To grow and develop in the Company, and help 1st Step achieve its aspirations for growth. Finally, tell us something about you that wasn't on your CV? I teach ballroom and latin dancing in Newark during my spare time. I do this because I danced from when I was four years old. I went on to get my teachers certificate and then decided to carry on, being fully qualified by the time I was 17!
October 10th around the world should be etched in the calendar each year because it is the day we re-energise the conversation about Mental Health. This year, the focus is on young people and mental health in a changing world. Whether it is the changes in the political landscapes, natural disasters or stress at work or home, people around the world are finding it tough going to handle what life has to throw at them, so it is important that we recognise the need to look after each other. Mental health matters! There are stories every day that we observe about how mental health issues are affecting us, directly and indirectly, and everyone – employers, colleagues, families and friends – needs to take time to look after their mental health; we all have mental health and it is as important that you look after your mental health just like you would your physical health. At 1st Step we are encouraging colleagues to take time to have a cup of tea and talk to each other, just to be a friendly ear and take time to interact with your peers. Take time to look after your friends and family, and check they are ok. Start today; do it every day. For more information on World Health Day 2018, visit the Mental Health Foundation via https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/world-mental-health-day
We are pleased to welcome Simon Gerrard to our Senior Management team. Simon joins us as a Director for white-collar services and reporting to the Board. Simon will be based from our Farringdon office and will be responsible for assisting Davinia Farr & Nana Boss to achieve the growth and strategy of their respective Divisions and for all future white collar activities across the UK & USA. Owner & Chairman Simon Cowdrey said, "We are really pleased to welcome Simon to 1st Step - an excellent acquisition as we look to continue our recent strong growth across M&E and Construction white collar sections". He added, "bringing Simon on to the team gives us an added element of leadership that will further strengthen our already successful teams." Simon will be spending time with the teams in Farringdon during his first week, before integrating himself into the wider business and meeting clients and candidates alongside our consultants. Simon can be contacted at our Farringdon office on 0207 760 7622 or by emailing email@example.com
I was asked recently what Kerrie’s Job title meant when we promoted her to a Candidate Manager. I thought to myself "I could list all of Kerrie’s daily duties and responsibilities" (they would definitely include making me a great cup of tea and of course being my right-hand person when it comes to getting the job done). But then I thought the best way to demonstrate what she does, would be to let the candidates Kerrie manages explain why she thoroughly deserves the job title Candidate Manager; what makes her more than a Resourcer "I have found Kerrie to be most helpful in all aspects in relations to any queries raised. She has a positive approach towards the recruited staff, & a bubbly personality, which installs trust in that union. Hopefully, she has a long career in this industry, as I believe she is an asset to 1st Step, which doesn't come around every day." Electrical Manager – SES Engineering Services "From my experience, I have found Kerrie to be extremely helpful and very professional. She provides you with all the information about a Client and job and delivers It in a warm and friendly manner. She is always cheerful and upbeat." Mechanical Site Manager – Designer Group "I have worked with Kerrie Letchford for the last year and I personally think she is a great woman for any position with any company, She has a lovely personality and extremely helpful at all times." Mechanical Supervisor – Briggs & Forrester Candidates are important to 1st Step and making sure they have the correct information, are continually informed of how the process is going and treated with respect are at the core of what Kerrie does daily and an ethos that is echoed by the values of 1st Step Solutions. I’m very privileged to have Kerrie in my team continually on the hunt for the “best of the best” Mechanical & Electrical Supervisors and Site Managers to work for our clients. To Kerrie, no candidate is ever just a number and to me, Kerrie is an essential part of my team. Thank you, Kerrie, we never underestimate how important you are in our team – can someone please try and find us 10 more Kerries?
We are delighted to announce that we have promoted two of our consultants to Recruitment Manager positions today, in recognition of their hard work and dedication and in line with our ongoing plans for growth and development of both the business and our people. Find Nicole on LinkedIn Nicole Hodgson - M&E South East Having joined us in 2017, Nicole has quickly become an integral part of our business and proven to have the leadership skills necessary to lead our recruitment team in Wickford. Owner and Chairman Simon Cowdrey said "With our recent restructures, it quickly became apparent to us that Nicole has the ability and skills to take the lead in our M&E trades office for London and the South East. Even though Nicole only joined us last year, her integration with the rest of our business and the commitment she has shown in the best interests of the Company meant this was an obvious choice for us." Find Mike on LinkedIn - Mike Elliott - M&E Midlands Joining as a Consultant, Mike Elliott has been with 1st Step now for two and a half years. After a career in the Army, Mike quickly became an ambassador for the ethos and values of 1st Step and has now been promoted to be the Recruitment Manager for our team based in Newark. Commenting on Mike's promotion, Managing Director Matthew Jones said "Mike has unofficially taken some of the roles of leading the team and supporting the division well over the past 18 months, and his commitment to customer service levels to candidates and clients alike along with a keen eye for detail meant it was the right choice for him and us to promote him to Recruitment Manager", adding "when assessing how best to continue the excellent work our Newark team do it was clear to us that Mike should be allowed to continue and develop his role more formally. We are really pleased that he is taking this opportunity to develop himself and the office".
Do you want a chance to have a career in Recruitment, working out of a vibrant office in the centre of London? We are recruiting new M&E Resourcers for our London (City) office based in Farringdon. You need an ability to communicate well - the telephone will be your best friend! But all of your communication skills, such as being able to construct a job advert, correctly send emails messages and be a part of the team, will make you a success in this role. So if you are interested in working for 1st Step, don't hesitate to get in touch to find out more! Call us on 0207 760 7622 and ask for Davinia Farr.
I will never forget the day I met Anna, she turned up at Chelmsford Railway station with a mass of curly hair, big hoop earrings and a smile that would light up a room. From the day she started Anna has been one of my most loyal team members. Initially starting in an office Admin position Anna quickly demonstrated a real flair for recruitment, and alongside the office admin duties started to source Site Administrators and Document Controllers to go and work for our clients. This “side-line” Anna started quickly grew and grew, and soon she was focused on recruitment full time as a Delivery Consultant and then a Consultant. Over the 4 years Anna has been in my team one thing has never changed and that is the passion she shows for finding her candidates the right job for them. For Anna, it’s not about where will make her the most money or who will she hit her target with; it’s all about finding the perfect job for her candidates who she cares so much about. Anna’s passion for 1st Step Solutions has stood out since her first day. She is a real team player and works as tirelessly for the good of her team as she does her candidates and she makes me immensely proud every day when I watch her conduct herself with so many of the morals that 1st Step stands for; she is honest, has integrity and above all she simply cares. Over the four years Anna has been with us her desk has grown from just Site Administrators and Document Controllers to also recruiting for PA’s, Office Managers, Technical Coordinators, Commercial / Estimating Administrators, Accounts Administrators, Purchase Ledger staff to name just a few. I cannot thank Anna enough for her unwavering support and hard work and would like to assure any candidate looking for work in Business Support with M&E and Construction that they are in very safe hands with Anna.
Three years ago today, August 17th 2015, Max White passed away after a hard fought battle with cancer. An inspirational man, who was a unique character that you rarely find in life. As a colleague, he was much loved and respected by everyone in 1st Step. It is not often you can say nobody had a bad word to say about someone and know it is true – but Max was one of those guys. Personally, he was a great Father to Ellie and a fantastic friend to those around him, too. His influence inside 1st Step was one thing, but the impact of his personality, professionalism and class in dealing with people reached far beyond the doors of West Hill House in Dartford and our offices that he helped to grow. You can ask many of our clients and industry experts that dealt with Max and they say the same thing – what a great man! Just look at the fundraising his friends and colleagues have undertaken for Live Life to the Max – the generosity and will of countless people to fundraise in his name is an astounding testament to his life and memory and a source of much-needed funding for Cancer Research UK. When Max found out about his cancer, he took it in his stride and fought it. He did get frustrated by the system, but he did it with a positive heart and mind. Dignified in his battle, he started the Live Life to the Max campaign that is still going strong today. He remained a good person to talk to – frank and honest in his opinions but with a heartfelt desire to give the best advice. Genuinely, not a day goes by for us at 1st Step where his name isn’t mentioned in some way. Over half of our colleagues didn’t meet him. But every person has heard about him and understands what he stood for because his values shaped what 1st Step stands for. Honest and loyal confidants that you can rely on. Three years haven’t made it easier to take that he has gone, but his legacy makes his family, friends, colleagues and industry peers from all walks of life remember that there is a right way to be with people. Live Life to the Max
We have so many vacancies on our books at the moment, that is easier to tell you what we are not recruiting for; we don't need astronauts right now. Our teams are working the phones so hard that they make a Comic Relief night telephone operator look like they are on a go-slow! We have vacancies for temporary and permanent placements at a whole range of clients, and we are looking for candidates in every field, be it trades and labour or Project Managers, and everything in between. So what are you waiting for? Visit https://www.1ststepsolutions.co.uk/contact-us/head-office and find the office nearest to you, and give them a call! Your next move and career step is only a call away.
The Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre - Stanford Hall Estate While each Recruiter will have his/her opinion on projects, clients and candidates, what we all have in common is that common goal of providing an excellent service to all. Some, like myself, started a career in recruitment for job satisfaction and knowing you have aided people seeking employment to the clients who rely on our services daily. Having served in the military for over 14 years, I initial joined 1st Step Solutions due to their impending contract to supply a large M&E contractor on a new state of the art Rehabilitation centre for the Military’s injured and wounded soldiers with a national capacity. This project is something I really wanted to be part of and watch the project develop from a piece of land to a brand-new purpose build facility that some of my old colleagues and friends will be using. From early 2016 1st Step Solutions had tendered the supply of tradesman to SES (Engineering Services). Having successful been chosen, I would assume the role as the onsite Recruitment consultant. This would involve visiting the site at least once per week, which would increase during busier periods, walking around site visiting the supervisors and candidates weekly, liaising with the senior project team to ensure we could be more pro-active and understanding their labour plan early on. This also included dealing with any issues that may arise from both the supervisors or the candidates throughout the entire project, managing absences, holidays, occupational health assessments and completion of the timesheets each week. The initial order of a 2 CPCS Slingers quickly turned in to 2 Electricians, 2 Electrical Improvers followed by another order just before the Christmas break. Returning to the site in January, another large order was placed which our team had successfully sourced and supplied another batch of high-quality tradesman in a timely manner. Due to the project being of such magnitude with at peak over 800 tradesmen on site, certain areas of the project were not ready for the M&E installation. This resulted in the labour fluctuating which needed to be managed from the outset. Having supplied and managed the labour requirement since 2016, we have a built up a great rapport and relationship with both SES (engineering services) its supervisors and staff and all the candidates we have supplied. Watching this project from a grassland to a huge building site to now walking around site seeing the little things like door name tags, the walls all painted and rooms fully complete ready for the patients to move in including that brand-new smell, really brings home the work that all the tradesman have done. Some of this work is amazing like the brickwork, M&E Installation (that’s visible), painters, groundworks, windows and doors and behind the scenes that most will never know to exist are the designers and architects, all supporting staff that managed the designs, site associated paperwork, administration roles that are key to help move the project forward etc have all been instrumental in the whole DNRC project. This project will be a lasting legacy in the area of Loughborough and I’m very proud to play our part in it, however small it may seem. Being a recruiter has it’s up’s and downs and being the ‘middleman’ we can receive the pressure from both angles, however that said, this project has really made me and my team fully understand that we are not just supplying an electrician, a slinger, a labourer, a supervisor or a plumber, we are supplying candidates that will and do make a difference not just to the client but to the end user and in this case, our injured troops. Although this project has been officially handed over in July 2018 to the Prime Minister in the presence of His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge, the facility will not fully open until later this year with the first patients looking to move in circa early October 2018. I will be looking forward to seeing this project fully open and take the opportunity to visit some friends. Don’t take my word for it, take a look for yourself and see the incredible work to date and to find out more information visit the DNRC Website https://www.thednrc.org.uk/
We are pleased to be able to give an update on the successful completion of Muddy to the Max by our Management & Technical Team! Further to our post on 26 June, we are delighted to confirm that as of the time publishing, the team (left to right) of Emily, Anna-Marie, Davinia and Kerrie have raised a whopping £835! Running through mud, sweat and tears the team really represented a true team spirit. Our Chairman, Simon Cowdrey said "I am immensely proud of Davinia, Kerrie, Anna-Marie and Emily for doing this. Live Life to the Max is our chosen charity, raising funds for Cancer Research in memory of our dear friend Max White, and the ongoing efforts of the teams across our business are a credit to his lasting impact on 1st Step and anyone who ever met him. I am pretty sure that he will have been looking down in awe at Davinia and the team running around in the mud!" You can still support the team if you wish - visit https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/team/muddy-to-the-max%C2%A0 for more information.
Three weeks into my new role as a Business Development Consultant for 1st Step Solutions there’s still a little pause as I’m passing on my email address, For a long time, this was the email address I was sending my weekly timesheet to… I’d worked as a DC for almost 7 years when in 2010 company redundancy’s put me in the path of 1st Step. Within a couple of weeks, I was settling into my new DC role for one of 1st steps clients and leading M&E contractors. This was my first experience with an agency and was surprised at how easy the new start process was, the team were not only highly professional but very welcoming and approachable too. Almost 5 years later I decided to leave the UK for a couple of years of travelling, When I returned to London in 2017 there was only one place I was going to call…1st Step Solutions. Within a couple of days, I was sent for an interview, a couple of weeks later I was again getting stuck into my new job for another of the country’s leading M&E companies where is stayed until the next travel adventure began 10 months later. While travelling through New Zealand I was offered an exciting opportunity to join the team at 1st Step that introduced me to the world of M&E 8 years ago as a candidate and without hesitation and only a few months into my visa I was planning my return. Now I am part of the team and feel like I have always been here. The grass is greenest where it's watered, and that’s both sides of the fence working with 1st Step. In the team (left to right) Kerrie, Sam and Danica
Continuing our ongoing commitment to be involved in shaping the futures of the next generation of workers, today, I visited Cooper’s School in Chislehurst to discuss employability skills and careers in HR (4th July 2018). Part of our ongoing commitment to being part of our community is helping to educate the next generation of the UK’s workforce. We feel it is really important to meet students and engage with them about life in the working world, which is often not on the curriculum. To go into details of how to perform in an interview compliments what schools do, but giving contextual advice from experience from throughout my career added real value. I have to be honest I was dreading it a bit - teenagers are not renowned for being easy to keep captivated - but the students at Cooper’s School were an absolute credit to their school and themselves. They were genuinely interested in my career and in what 1st Step do too. It gives real hope for the next generation that we are bringing into our workplaces. And they did remind every 10 minutes...it’s coming home!
This week we were delighted to be asked to attend an event in aid of "Haven House" which is a charity set up to look after terminally ill children. Our Operations Director, Andy Brooks was in attendance at the event, held at the Seve Ballesteros designed course, the Shire. Andy said "We were invited along to attend the event, organised by our client MJL, and we were only too pleased to be there" adding "whilst my golfing wasn't up to much, and I won't comment on others, the event was a huge success and our client should be applauded for organising such a fantastic day and, moreover, raising the best part of £30k towards the Charity". "Supporting both charities and our clients is an important and imperative part of what we do at 1st Step, so getting the chance to do so alongside our clients and fellow supply-chain members is great" said Andy.
Two of our leading Consultants, Kieran James and Sam Nixon, have recently taken a visit to Battersea, and they were impressed... Kieran and Sam were meeting their client at Battersea and got a treat of a site tour. In this picture, you can see Sam Nixon, our Commercial Consultant who was stood next to a £450,000 boiler, of which there are two powering the old Power Station! Sam said "this was an awesome project, and great to meet the guys out on site. I am always in awe of the projects our candidates and clients build, but this is another level. I'm really grateful for being invited". "The size and scale of this project is immense" said Kieran, "and you can't really grasp the scale and size of the project even when you are stood next to it. We're really proud to be represented 1st Step as part of this prestigious project."
Sun Protection As the summer approaches and most of us look forward to warmer and sunnier days, it is important to remember to take precautions with regards to sun exposure. Overexposure to the sun is dangerous and can cause issues such as sunburn, skin cancer and heat stress. People working outside, such as those in the Construction Industry, face an even higher risk as they are more exposed to the damaging ultraviolet (UV) in sunlight than people working inside. The effects of UV on the skin can include sunburn, blistering, ageing of the skin, and in the long run, it can lead to skin cancer. Around 125,000 people per year are admitted to hospital with skin cancer each year, making it one of the most common forms of cancer with approximately 2,300 people dying from the disease. There are steps that you can take, in order to reduce the risks of sun exposure, which include: Realising that a tan is not healthy, but evidence that the skin has already been damaged Keep your top on! Wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt made from a close-woven fabric that stops the UV rays getting through to your skin is an effective defence ALWAYS use a suitably high level of sun cream – a minimum of sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher; don’t forget the backs of your hands, your ears and your neck ALWAYS wear your safety helmet (hard hat) on site; not only does it protect you from falling objects and bumps, but it is an effective form of SPF Check your skin for unusual spots or moles that change size, shape or colour or that start bleeding: seek urgent medical advice if you find anything that worries you Take your breaks in the shade, and if possible try to work in the shade The HSE published a guide called “Keep your top on” (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf) which gives further advice about the risks of working in the sun. Heat Stress The effects of heat stress are often as serious as that of UV exposure but can be harder to spot. In order to protect yourself from the effects of heat stress, it is important to ensure you recognise the symptoms, which can include heat rashes, nausea, fainting, muscle cramp, extreme fatigue and headaches. A heat stroke is most severe, and if not treated urgently, can be fatal. To stay safe, follow these easy steps: Stay hydrated – this is the best way to avoid heat stress. Drink 1-2 litres of water a day, and up to 1 litre per hour on very hot days with lots of physical activity Drink before, during (where possible) and after work Drink water, diluted squash or diluted fruit juice Eat cold foods such as salads and fruit to keep the body temperature down and as an added source of water Don’t leave food in the sun – it attracts bugs more quickly in the heat and can cause food poisoning. For more information visit the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/heatstress/)
Our brave and willing Management & Technical division are going to get Muddy to the Max! In aid of Cancer Research, and in memory of our late MD Max White, Anna-Marie Warren, Davinia Farr, Emily Saitch and Kerrie Letchford going to be taking part in the Maidstone Pretty Muddy 5k on Sunday 8th July 2018. This will be an ideal opportunity for us to raise some vital profiles, whilst seeing our amazing colleagues endure a new experience! You can donate in support of our team, by clicking https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/team/muddy-to-the-max Good luck, ladies!
England got their World Cup off to a great start, with their 1st Step (sorry!) into the tournament ending in a victory for Captain Kane and the England team. And we were lucky enough to watch the first match for the Three Lions screened on the walls of our Farringdon office! 1st Step's London team were joined by clients and candidates from across a wide variety of contractors in the M&E sector and beyond, and were all treated to a fantastic finger buffet organised by our Divisional Manager, Davinia Farr and a free bar (with no queue). Matthew Jones, Managing Director said "It was a great evening. Davinia excelled in putting on a great show for our candidates and clients. It was so nice to spend time in a relaxed atmosphere, and her team did her really proud." Keep your eyes peeled for more games being shown at our Cowcross Street offices - an invite may just drop in your inbox!
In case you haven't noticed... the FIFA World Cup starts in a few weeks! Yes, that's right, love it or hate it, the World Cup fever is back soon for its quad-annual visit to our lives. We've created a free Sweepstake sheet for you to use in your office. Print it off and use as you please! Have fun The latest survey responses to XpertHR, who 1st Step use for advice and guidance, suggest the World Cup is a great tool for engaging employees, including putting TVs up in canteens and allowing flexibility for rest breaks to allow people to watch. With 90.8% of respondent employers suggesting that they will adopt an informal approach to the World Cup, common practice might suggest you don't get too hooked on rules for the events too. Common sense - from you as an employer or employee - is most needed in this situation, and just keep in mind that you are always representing your business. And 1st Step is using it to engage clients and candidates, too! We're not ashamed to admit we will use the opportunity either. So keep an eye out for any emails about events, and why not download our FREE world cup sweepstake sheet. 2018 Sweep Stake Sheet.pdf Size: 248 KB
It's good for business, especially if you work with 1st Step as a candidate or client. Whilst there is plenty of scaremongering about at the moment, GDPR is here to stay. Compliance with it will at the very least encourage recruiters to be better at recruitment. The best form of recruitment always has been and always will be "people buy from people" and that is how we at 1st Step do our business. Our recruiters try and meet every candidate, numerous times and sometimes they will build relationships over many years. This is what works, and why we employ a certain kind of recruiter that takes the time to care about the people we work with. Our consultants are going to carry on doing their job as they are because they are very good at it, and they have been doing it for years. The difference, and why GDPR is good for us, is that the concept of getting out there and meeting your candidates is not the norm with some of our competitors. To put it mildly, our competitors are going to have to up their game, to catch us. We are 1st Step, and we are the benchmark. So, we won't be mass emailing people, because it's not our style. But you can all take this blog as permission to contact us, and we will get to know you, and find you a new job! Sounds like a good idea to me. As for our clients? Well, you can rest assured that we have consent, from when we bought our candidates a coffee and asked them for it, whilst discussing where would be the best fit for their next career move. Just before they filled out the application form and signed the consent form.
Following the successful introduction of 1st Step into the USA, we are pleased to announce that Katherine Castellanos has been promoted to the role of Branch Manager after just 9 months with us. Joint MD Les Fillery said, "Katherine has been responsible for finding and setting up our office in New York, as well as recruiting team members and training them to our high standards. It felt like the right to do to promote Katherine, as it is very much deserved." "Kat has quickly become part of the family here at 1st Step," said Stuart Wallis, EIR Manager, adding "she is introducing our culture and working ethos into the office and clients in the USA, and doing a great job of it too! Knowing we have an ambassador like her running the branch in New York, it makes the day to day of employing people across the pond that much better."
A well-written CV is the backbone of any job application. After all, an employer wants to understand who you are, what your experience is and why you’re applying to their role. Yet, most of us groan at the thought of having to update our CV and will fail to tailor it to every job application we make. Here are some tips, based on rail engineering but relevant cross-sector, written by our friend Augusta Henning at CV-Library. 1. Stick to a clear format A huge part of getting yourself noticed is using a format that is easy to digest and that clearly displays all the relevant information needed. Alongside this, use an easy-to-read font, such as Arial or Calibri, in size 12. You can separate each section with bold headings, starting with your personal profile and following this with your work experience and education. Remember to write up your experience in reverse chronological order, placing your most recent and relevant positions first. In addition, you may wish to include a key skills section at the bottom, within your education section. Here, you can outline any additional qualifications you’ve gained, such as Prince2 or Agile. 2. Write a punchy personal profile As mentioned previously, your CV needs to open with a punchy personal profile. Here, you should give a clear and succinct summary of your professional background and career aspirations. It’s best to make this specific to the job you are applying for and you need to ensure that it’s not too broad. Otherwise, this suggests that you haven’t researched the job properly. Split this into two sections. In the first, you need to state who you are, for example: ‘a highly-skilled rail engineer, looking to secure a new position in…’ The second part needs to outline what you can offer the company. Here, you need to highlight any relevant skills and back them up with clear examples. For example ‘having worked on multiple successful projects for my employer, I have expressed strong problem-solving skills.’ 3. Bring your skills to life As a rail engineer, you’ll need to have a range of technical skills and be proficient with certain technologies. For example, you may be a pro at CAD but you can’t just simply state this on your CV. Try to bring these points to life by giving examples of any projects you’ve worked on in which you utilised these skills. Then, shout about the results that you achieved. For example, the ability to communicate effectively is crucial as a rail engineer. In this case, you’d write about a time when you’ve worked closely with other craftspeople to reach an end goal and highlight the success that came as a result of this. Think about using action keywords, such as: achieved, contributed, guided, handled and so on. 4. Showcase your qualifications In order to obtain a job as an engineer, you’ll need to hold a relevant qualification, such as Engineering Maintenance (NVQ Level 3) or Railway Engineering (NVQ Level 3). You may also be able to get the job by undergoing an apprenticeship. The final section of your CV should showcase these qualifications, outlining the title and dates completed. If you’re new to the rail engineer industry, you can go into more detail in this section, giving some examples of projects you worked on or any key skills you gained throughout your studies. You may also want to highlight any professional development courses you have taken, such as Personal Track Safety. In summary Overall, perfecting your CV should be your number one task when it comes to looking for a new job. Spend the time and effort on getting it right and you’ll have no problem in finding a rail engineering position that’s right for you. Engineering Jobs is a leading job board in the sector and is part of the CV-Library network. For more expert advice on engineering jobs, careers and the workplace, visit CV-Library’s Career Advice and Recruitment Insight pages.
Inspiring, Leading and Delivering - Tomorrow's Business Leaders are studying at LSEC's #theplatform and entered the Dragon's Den Through our longstanding partnership with LSEC, and in particular our good friend, Bob Noseda, our team were invited to hold a "Dragon's Den" style event at LSEC's Bexley Campus in Erith on Thursday, 8th March 2018. Students were set the task, in 6 teams of 4, of creating a recruitment business including a logo, company structure and logo to name some tasks, with a three hour deadline before presenting their business to our "Dragons". Representing us were Operations & Compliance Director, Careena Dabbs, Operations Director, Andy Brooks and Employee & Industrial Relations Manager Stuart Wallis, and the task at hand was a difficult one for them, as Careena explained. "All of the students present made such an impressive effort to develop the business plans. There were elements of every presentation and idea that were really well thought out, especially considering how they only had four hours in which to create their concepts!" The Dragons put the students through their paces - the idea being that they needed to experience a real-life situation when presenting a business concept to a group of potential investors, or clients, and the students had good answers too. Andy was given the honour of announcing the winner at the end of the day. He said "it was a really tough decision, with some inspiring ideas that got us thinking too. Eventually we chose a winner called Spotlight Recruitment, because we felt that they had the most complete concept. But it was a close run thing, with any of them capable of winning the competition." Talking about why 1st Step was supporting this initiative, Stuart said "We recognise the importance of businesses getting involved in the education of the next generation of businesses. The students we met today are all from our local area, and the incumbent responsibility on companies such as ours to play an active role in core business skills cannot be underestimated. We are delighted to be working with LSEC, and we look forward to our continuing partnership growing over the coming months and years."
We are pleased to welcome Anthony Isidro and Christopher Batista to 1st Step Resourcing Inc, based out of our New York office. Chris and Anthony will be based at our office on 225 West 34th Street in New York, under the guidance and supervision of Katherine Castellanos and her Divsional Manager, Nana Boss.
Message from Simon Cowdrey, Chairman: "Tomorrow represents the 2nd anniversary since Max White, my Managing Director and friend passed away. Max and I worked together for nearly 17 years, during that time he was not only pivotal in establishing 1st Step but also instrumental in building the strong foundations to where the business is today. When Max was diagnosed 3 years ago he set-up a charity in aid of Cancer Research called “Live Life to the Max” which the company, staff, clients and his many friends continue to support raising much needed funds. Wherever we live in the world we are all sadly effected by someone we know with this dreadful disease. 1st Step has grown rapidly in the past 2 years and over 50% of our employees have never met Max. However they have all embraced Max’s philosophies and as a company we are united in showing compassion and empathy in support for his charity. Max died one week before his 41st birthday, however his memory still lives on."
The Boys from Bristol have been out today visiting our clients, starting with Interserve's Bristol office. But they were not being salesy! Oh no... Andy Brooks (Operations Director), Ralph Preston (Regional Director) and Matthew Williams (Branch Manager) all visited Interserve - dressed in their big baby nappies - and washed their cars in aid of Cancer Research! watch the video below. If you are in Bristol, and are a client of 1st Step, give the guys a call. For the right donation, you can get your cars cleaned by our cleaning babies! Call 0117 332 6633 now and speak to Andy, Ralph or Matthew.
We are proud to announce that the Rail Team have once again achieved a Five Star rating in our annual RISQS Audit. Compliance & Strategy Director, Careena Dabbs said "The Rail team have surpassed themselves once again, ensuring the high standards required on the rail network are maintained and often exceeded. The RISQS audit is a rigorous one, but the evidence required to demonstrate our competency in this industry is always readily available and plentiful. The team thoroughly deserve the full 5 Marks awarded to them." Managing Director for Rail, Les Fillery said "1st Step Solutions' Rail Team are all committed to supplying a first class ongoing service to the industry and take our compliance responsibilities very serious. The team have demonstrated a very professional and methodical approach towards the RISQS audit and deserve all the plaudits bestowed on them. A superb team effort, well done to all involved." A full list of Product Codes are available upon request detailing the areas of our specialist supply