The rewards of almost any job depends on what you put into it. Well, as the blogger for Plastic Surgeon, I can say that the same is very much the case for our Finishers, who now total 130 in number and still rising.
As I’ve described to you before when looking at groups of trainees arriving for their induction course at our headquarters in Devon, the individuals come from every walk of life; some with no previous experience of the construction industry at all. But what they all discover within a day or two of starting the course is that Plastic Surgeon is offering the opportunity to #train for a new career and a genuine career structure, not just plenty of well-paid work.
Our courses are run by Training Manager Ian Richards, who was in fact one of the company’s very first recruits, and the person who has helped formalize Plastic Surgeon’s approach to the #cosmetic repair business. Thanks to people like Ian, not only do our various client sectors benefit from a professional service, our Finishers have the opportunity to progress in a true profession.
Speaking to Ian recently he told me: “Not only has staff retention improved over the years, but we are genuinely looking for people who want to stay here and build a career. Some people have already worked as plasterers or in car body shops, while others may only have ever done DIY jobs at home. What we are looking for is basic aptitude and attitude, after which we help them build their skill-set.”
When applicants respond to our adverts or perhaps learn about Plastic Surgeon from the website, or a personal contact, they will first be given a phone interview, followed by a face-to-face interview with Ian and the Operations Manager for their region. Providing they meet our requirements – which include having a clean driving licence and good colour perception – they will be invited to attend one of the half dozen training courses we run each year.
The courses begin with Ian ensuring the recruits have the key skills for preparation, filling, smoothing and colour matching areas of damage; going on to selecting the correct materials for different types of repair. But they will also be taught spraying and all of Plastic Surgeon’s safety procedures relating to asbestos awareness, ladder usage, manual handling and even ensuring they wear a breathing mask correctly. Gaining a CSCS card – recognized by the Construction Industry Training Board – via one of the independent testing centres, is another essential step.
Plastic Surgeon regards completing the first training week down in Bovey Tracey as just the start of their journey.
Ian continued: “After the week is over the trainees will sit down with their Regional Operations Manager and draw up a plan of how they are going to progress. Also within the first couple of days they will be introduced to the person who is going to mentor them: normally a Grade 2 or Grade 3 qualified Finisher. They will often spend up to six months going to jobs together as they continue to learn and gain experience before they are tasked to attend sites on their own. It is a process that involves building confidence as well as learning practical skills and developing people skills.”
Interestingly – as there is at present no NVQ that covers cosmetic repair work – Plastic Surgeon has developed a Finisher Passport which is a handbook each operative is responsible for keeping up to date – similar to a “professional portfolio” kept by medical staff in the NHS – where they record each new repair type or other ‘badge’ they earn – such as learning to drive a cherry picker.
The passport, with comments from their mentor, are a key part of the regular reviews undertaken with the operations manager, who will decide when they are ready to be rated as a Finisher Grade 1.
Promotion naturally brings a salary increment but Plastic Surgeon also operates a bonus scheme, based on hours worked at the level appropriate to their grade. Time of service bonuses are also paid to reward loyalty.
Across the country and particularly in the South-east, our housebuilding clients are booming again, but we also remain strong in sectors like social housing, facilities management and insurance. So another reason our retention is so good stems from the fact that Finishers may find themselves repairing a marble staircase in a top hotel one week, and resurfacing the whirlpool baths on the deck of a cruise liner the next.
One day’s work can be as different from the next as the people who choose to build their careers with Plastic Surgeon.
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