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Worley: Winning Work by Investing in its People

05/15/2024 Article

A globally respected company’s investment in its craft workforce contributes to notable success. With a laser focus on skills development, Worley has become an employer and contractor of choice within the construction industry.

Over the next few years, Worley — a global company with nearly 50,000 employees — aims to generate 75% of its aggregated revenue from sustainability-related work. To achieve this admirable target, Worley must be prepared to meet a variety of clients’ needs by attracting and retaining people with the critical capabilities needed to build their competitive advantage. One of the crucial ways Worley will accomplish this is through investing in its people.

Employer of Choice

Workforce development is an integral piece of Worley’s success. The company develops its nearly 18,000 trade and craft people through an engage-to-retain philosophy. Programs that support both the company’s business initiatives and employees include apprenticeships, upskilling, skill gap analysis, and certification.

Expanding Apprenticeship

Over the past several years, Worley has focused on growing its apprenticeship programs with emphasis on meeting the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Infrastructure Act requirements. The company offers programs in Texas, California, Iowa, and Illinois for twelve craft classifications including: Boilermaker, Carpenter, Form Carpenter, Construction Craft Laborer, Electrician, Millwright, Pipefitter, Rebar Metal Worker, Scaffolder, Structural Steel Ironworker, Surveyor, and Welder. Completing the program earns apprentices credentials from the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and United States Department of Labor (USDOL). Last year, the Worley Apprenticeship Academy in West Texas surpassed 80,000 work hours and 200 participants alone.

Ann Pham, a Workforce Development Manager, is Worley’s in-house expert on the IRA’s training and labor standards. When discussing the challenges companies may face in conforming to the requirements, Pham says “The National Center for Construction Education and Research has been pivotal. NCCER’s programs are designed to meet the Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship time requirements with 144 hours of Related Technical Instruction (RTI) in each craft level. Along with the credibility and reliability of NCCER, the convenience of having a single source for everything makes it much easier to start an apprenticeship program, especially in potentially remote locations with limited resources.”

“The certification, credentials, curriculum, we use the whole NCCER system,” says Pham. “Worley uses NCCER to train all of our apprentices for the technical side. We use certified proctors and instructors, the curriculum, everything.”

Regardless of IRA requirements, expanding the company’s training programs is critical to meeting the company’s talent needs.

“It’s always been a struggle to bring new talent into the industry,” says Pham. “Relying on third-party partnerships and relationships didn’t get the volume we needed. Our internal apprenticeship program works. We provide NCCER Core: Intro to Basic Construction Skills training for new entry-level employees to prepare them for the project site.”

Promoting Journey-Level Certifications

Optimizing the company’s existing craft workforce involves performing a gap analysis to identify and remediate areas in which individuals need additional training. This pathway ensures that individuals can perform the required tasks and incentivizes participation through pay rate increases.

“We provide training and assessments in-house at no cost to our employees,” says Rachel Rounsaville, NCCER program director and Worley workforce development manager.

“Our people understand that most of our contracts align to our three-level structure. The first level is hiring based on verifiable work experience. Next, we help them achieve either their knowledge verification (KV) or performance verification (PV) in their craft — either one gives them another pay rate increase. Once they achieve both the PV and the KV, they’re certified. That gives them the top pay rate and an incentive to upskill. Achieving certification is tied to pay, and results in lifetime employability.”

While increasing pay rates certainly motivate Worley employees to earn their credentials and certifications, a growing sense of pride also propels them through the training programs. Worley has noticed that as people earn certifications, their confidence and productivity improves.

Tyler Corley, a Worley Superintendent, explains, “We gave them the tools, the knowledge, and the skills to be more successful, more productive, and safer. Seeing their attitude and their confidence build, just from going through that process, was phenomenal.”

Contractor of Choice

The positive impacts of training and certification for Worley are clear, but how do those advantages translate to benefits for the company’s clients? Company leaders say the credentials prove that the craft professionals on the project site can perform.

Worley’s uncertified journey-level new hires are encouraged to complete the performance verification (PV) component of their certification before the knowledge component, also known as an assessment.

“Performance is king,” says Rounsaville. “I suggest doing the PV first because as soon as they get on the project, we know they can perform even if they’re struggling through studying for the assessment.”

This ensures that those hired have the necessary skills required for their work as soon as possible after employment.

In addition, Worley has validated that the company’s training and certification process reduces absenteeism, turnover and rework while increasing productivity. This is consistent with industry research reports like Construction Industry Craft Training in The United States and Canada, published by the Construction Industry Institute. Those indicators of a high-performing team are often requested by clients in their standardized prequalification forms and help Worley win contracts.

“A competitor may underbid us, but having a higher qualified and potentially safer workforce may give us the advantage to win work,” says Rounsaville. “We become a contractor of choice.”

The Virtuous Cycle

By utilizing standardized workforce development programs that help train and upskill their workforce, Worley has earned both loyal clients and employees. The programs Worley implements benefit employees and increase productivity, leading to satisfied clients, more work and continuous improvement.

In the words of Scott Marshall, senior group director – people operations (Americas) at Worley, “Our people always need to be the top priority. The payoff will be better morale, less attrition, more leaders down the road, and ultimately, a better product for our customer.”

Worley’s trusted provider for its certification and training program is NCCER, the only certifying body in the industry that ties assessments to curricula, leading to a training prescription. By performing a gap analysis with NCCER’s assessments and following up with an individualized training plan, Worley optimizes its talent in verifiable ways that lead to certification. Additionally, the company attracts and recruits new hires through its apprenticeship and training programs, launching potentially lifelong careers. Investing in Worley’s workforce helps the company recruit, engage, and retain top-tier talent.

Worley is known among peers as a leader in workforce development. The company has won industry awards every year since 2014. Recently, the company was recognized as the 2023 Gulf Coast Region Energy Apprenticeship Provider of the Year by the Houston Community College (HCC) Gulf Coast Region Apprenticeship Forum in recognition of their outstanding contributions to fostering skills development and advancing individuals into careers through apprenticeships.

Rounsaville frequently extols the benefits of Worley’s apprenticeship programs to operations leaders. In her own words, “Do you want to see productivity increase while turnover, absenteeism, injury, and rework decrease? Here’s how you do it. Research indicates that these are the benefits of engagement through training, and we validate this on our own projects.”

Learn more about the benefits of apprenticeship by downloading NCCER’s recent white paper, “Future-Proofing the Construction Workforce: The Value of Training and Credentials.


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