Conor Mcintosh, aged twenty-three from Cwmavon, Port Talbot is the dedicated Health and Safety Consultant for the redevelopment of Aberafan House in Port Talbot.
The £4.7m investment is one of a number of projects in Neath Port Talbot Council’s regeneration programme, which will see over £35m invested in and around the town centre, partly funded by the Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places Programme.
Port Talbot is benefitting from £11.4million of Vibrant and Viable Places funding from the Welsh Government. The Programme has an emphasis on improving or creating new housing supply and delivering projects which provide training and employment opportunities.
The redevelopment of Aberafan House, which is ideally situated in the heart of Port Talbot, adjoining the popular Aberafan Shopping Centre, will see the conversion of the former offices into one and two bedroom affordable apartments for rent. The scheme is being delivered by Hacer Developments and Pobl Group.
The development will also see the improvements of the immediate surroundings, including improved lighting, cycle racks for residents, benches and street furniture along the riverside walk to create a safer and more welcoming space for both residents and the public.
Neath Port Talbot Council works closely with delivery partners to ensure that training and employment opportunities are offered to local people and, as part of the Vibrant and Viable Places Programme, has set Pobl and Hacer community benefit targets.
Targets were set against completing employment related courses or qualifications, employing and engaging those who have previously been economically inactive and in retaining trainees or apprentices on the project.
In September 2017, after just seven months of the contract, the community benefits targets were met and continue to be exceeded. Conor is one of the people who has benefitted from the Aberafan House redevelopment project.
After leaving school, Conor worked in call centres, and admits that he was coasting through life and wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do. As a former Welsh Junior Boxing Champion, Conor coaches at Port Talbot Bulldogs boxing club in Baglan and it was while volunteering here that he met his current boss who spotted his potential and told him about an opportunity to become a Health and Safety trainee through Jobs Growth Wales. Conor applied, was successful and made such an impression that he was taken on permanently after the placement ended.
Conor later went on to complete a number of highly prestigious courses, all of which helped him gain employment with Greenbuild.
“I started as a trainee with Greenbuild Management in 2016, since then I’ve passed the NEBOSH General Certificate and the CITB (health and safety courses) Site Managers Safety Training Scheme, gaining these qualifications has enabled me to get out of the office and start working onsite.
“We were appointed as Hacer’s subcontractors at the start of the job and this is my first experience of being the person responsible for health and safety on a development site.
“I’m the dedicated Health and Safety person for the development, I deal with all the day to day issues that come with working on such a complex site, ensuring that safety regulations are adhered to.
“The on the job knowledge I’ve gained since starting on Aberafan House has been invaluable; I’m getting a great grounding in the construction industry and this opportunity has made me realise it’s definitely what I want to do in the future. I’ve also done more training whilst on the job and had the chance to do some site management support. Kevin Doherty, Hacer’s contracts manager and Rob Brown, Site Manager have both been great mentors to me and I’ve learnt loads from them.”
Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainable Development, Councillor Annette Wingrave said:
“It’s fantastic to see a local lad getting his first break on such a huge site, which will create even more opportunities for local people once it’s up and running.
“We are passionate about making the county borough residents and businesses see the benefits of all of the projects that are underway across Neath Port Talbot, and Conor is a great example of how we are working hard to make the most of these opportunities at every stage and in every new development”.
Conor is excited about his future and is grateful to have been able to grasp the opportunities that came his way, and he feels passionate about giving something back.
He explained more about his volunteering at the Bulldogs boxing club:
“The Bulldogs was formed to support local young people facing barriers and challenges in their life to make positive choices and changes by inspiring success through boxing. As Chair of The Bulldogs Youth Council, I work with people who need a helping hand or just a bit more confidence to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way – I’ve been through it and it’s made me really appreciate the help and support I’ve received. I’m more than happy to share my experiences and what I’ve learnt along the way in the hope it helps or motivates someone else.”
Jonathan Hughes, Director of Development West at Pobl, explained more about why the community benefit targets are becoming increasingly important
“CITB [Construction Industry Training Board] research found that 22% of the workforce in the construction industry are aged over 50, this skills gap means there is a huge opportunity for young people to fill it. It’s great to see how young people like Conor are being attracted into the industry to try to fill this gap and it’s great to have worked with Hacer and Neath Port Talbot Council to provide such opportunities on this development. We look forward to working with Conor on the remainder of the Aberafan House contract and wish him a long and lasting career in the industry.”
Hacer spokesperson, Amanda Doherty added:
“It has been rewarding to see Conor make this role his own, constantly seeking opportunities to improve and for being a positive, young individual. Hopefully, Conor can inspire others like him to take a similar path, in what is, a rewarding and buoyant industry”.