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Social value: it’s all about people



Earlier this month [November] National Highways published its first ever Social Value Report. The report followed on from the publication of its Social Value Plan a year earlier, which set goals up to 2024.


Throughout the report, there’s a strong focus on people and skills. It features metrics and case studies that demonstrate how National Highways and its supply chain are attracting young people to the industry, diversifying the workforce, delivering training and working on wellbeing.


The Plan looks at the creation of social value through four aspects or pillars: economic prosperity, improving the environment, community wellbeing and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). National Highways is measuring and reporting on the performance of its supply chain through its Social Value Tool, launched last October with the Plan, which aims to quantify social value delivery.


The report doesn’t attempt to put a figure in pounds on the social value created. Instead, it gives metrics such as 2,058 weeks of apprenticeships delivered, 56% of supply chain companies with wellbeing measures and 91 armed-forces veterans working on projects. The report says that National Highways wants more of its supply chain partners to use the tool so that it can created a baseline from which to measure improvement.


As with many social value reports, much of the meat of the document is made up of mini case studies from within National Highways and from supply chain companies. Stories told include how apprenticeships are being created and delivered, an international debate among students on climate change, training mental health first aiders and boosting veterans’ job hunting with the gift of laptops.


The report also talks about social value among its employees and how National Highways is working to build an inclusive culture. This section included achievements such as increasing the number of EDI champions among its employees, launching the Roads for All conference that looks at accessibility for all and launching a e-learning package to encourage flexible working.


There is also a mention for the winner of a new category within National Highways’ annual awards, the ceremony for which was held in March 2023. Nuneaton Signs was the winner, praised for employing and training people with disabilities with 70% of its 73-strong workforce having at least one disability and its mantra being ‘Find a way not an excuse’.


Among National Highways’ social value goals for 2023-24 is the desire to showcase impactful social value stories from supply chain companies and to collaborate with the Department of Transport to encourage more high-quality apprenticeships through the Transport Infrastructure Skills Strategy. For any companies looking for guidance on producing case studies, there’s some useful advice from Colas’ head of social value Rachael Atkin, published on the LCRIG website, link below.


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