As Matthew McCarrick joins the Construction Alliance North East board, there are several key topics that he places at the top of the agenda for 2022. Here, he talks about his route into construction, building a team for the future with apprentices, and the need for more discussion on procurement and general working practices.
McCarrick’s 20 years in the construction sector began in earnest as soon as he finished a commercial management degree in Manchester. He was propelled into high profile commercial projects, including the Trafford Centre and various buildings and studios that make up the BBC’s MediaCityUK development in Salford.
He ran a number of multi-million-pound military accommodation projects with Lendlease in North Yorkshire before returning to the North East in 2014 to join McCarrick Construction, which was set up by his grandfather in 1953 and subsequently run by his father Michael McCarrick.
Now in position as managing director at McCarrick Construction, Matthew has experienced the highs and lows of the construction industry through the last 20 years. In joining the CAN board, he knows there’s work to do and support to be given to SMEs across the North East.
He said: “Having worked within the international construction industry and for the Ministry of Defence, I’ve been able to bring a varied range of skills to McCarrick Construction – particularly in terms of networking and building trusting business relationships, nurturing talent within our workforce with a view to future progression, and ensuring standards of safety and workmanship remain extremely high.”
“At CAN, I would like to be part of an improvement in the working culture of the North East’s construction industry. There can be a glass ceiling for otherwise talented tradesmen if their business administration practices miss the mark in a way that makes them seem a risky choice for contractors.”
Investing in the future
Encouraging young people into construction has been something McCarrick has been invested in for many years, and he has used his business to advocate their effectiveness in the industry.
With McCarrick Construction formalising its apprenticeships scheme in 2014, the firm has since gone on to win the North East Apprentice Employer of the Year at the Apprentice Awards 2017 and 2021, (following these by achieving Highly Commended status at the National Awards on both occasions) also winning the CITB Apprentice Awards – Highly Commended SME Apprentice Employer Of The Year 2018.
Ahead of National Apprenticeships Week, which runs between February 7-13, McCarrick is keen to discuss the role apprentices can play in business success. He said: “I would particularly like to communicate the benefits to SMEs of taking on apprentices, whether in terms of recruitment, succession, workplace culture or cementing a company’s place in their local environment as well as the more general side-effect of encouraging a new generation of young people into our industry.
“We’ve [McCarrick Construction] had enormous success with ours over the years – our senior team and some of our directors are former apprentices themselves, and our veteran tradesmen find great satisfaction in passing on their skills directly, nurturing good working practices in apprentices from the very start of their careers.”
Smarter working practices
The three pillars that drive CAN forward are intelligent procurement, fair payment, and skills and training, all of which Matthew believes can be improved for businesses across the region, from the rural sites up in Northumberland to city-centre projects in Newcastle, Sunderland, and Darlington.
He added: “As the managing director of a North East construction company, I very much welcome CAN’s concept of bringing SMEs in the region together to apply combined lobbying power or economies of scale where necessary for the betterment of the construction industry across the region.”
“I think our aims to enable SMEs to access opportunities are very important – at the moment, it takes a lot of time and monetary investment for an SME to be able to even access the various procurement processes which we have found can be complex, time-consuming, and inconsistent.”
“Procurement can be a very inefficient process for time-pressed contractors. CAN has a range of ideas as to how to either enable SMEs to access the various pipelines of work available or to try to make the processes involved simpler for the industry as a whole.”
McCarrick’s own firm has made considerable investments by training its staff in bid writing with the help of local courses, while also having accreditations with Construction Health and Safety Assessment (CHAS), Constructionline, Safe Contractor, and ISO 9001.
“Each of these accreditations promises to short-cut elements of the PQQ forms,” said Matthew. “However, these options are not available to every company, and furthermore, some procurement teams still use outdated and time-consuming PQQ and ITT processes.”
“I hope to be able to assist, via CAN, to streamline this aspect of the tendering process, and I would advise North East firms to get in touch both to find out what support might be available and to lend weight to CAN’s campaign to lobby for legislative changes to simplify procurement.”
To find out more on how Construction Alliance North East can support your business, visit www.constructionalliancenortheast.co.uk