A Licence to Learn

One of the aspects differentiating Sarah as an employer of choice is our views on how good business is done in this exciting, and often challenging industry.

When welcoming new personnel to Sarah, we seek out people with aligned values and a passion for continual development and growth.

Sarah’s leadership team recognise that developing young professionals in school and university settings provides the best opportunities to build capability at a grassroots level and bring about widespread industry improvements.

Since 2017, we have implemented a range of in-house training and development programs for school students, university undergraduates, and graduates, all with excellent results.

These programs are sponsored and shaped by our Executive Team, and require a significant contribution of time, knowledge, and funding from across all aspects of the organisation, but are not seen as a cost, rather an investment in the future construction industry in South Australia.

The size of our organisation means that participants develop within an innovative, sophisticated and integrated business, with access to our most experienced personnel and senior leaders.

This multi-generational input into our programs positively impacts the way we treat our clients, our subcontractors and suppliers, and importantly, each other.

As Group Executive for Human Resources, it is rewarding to see that almost a third of our employees have participated in one of our development programs.

My personal commitment to our young professionals is to create diverse and innovative environments that provides licence to learn, and access to industry-leading professional and personal development over the entirety of their career.

Opening Doors for Secondary Students

The South Australian Department for Education is one of Sarah’s valued and repeat clients and provide us with unparalleled opportunities to excite high school students about the many pathways offered by the construction industry.

For several years, we have collaborated with the Department to integrate immersion programs into the curriculum, enabling students to gain real qualifications (Certificate II in Construction Pathways) and build networks to employment.

During project delivery, Sarah’s project teams prioritise involvement in the programs, and plan for meaningful engagement with other team members and local subcontractors.

Recently at Murray Bridge High School, Sarah’s team worked closely with the South Australian Secondary Training Academy (SAASTA) and the school to provide a construction industry immersion program.

Students gained firsthand exposure to the build process at each stage; including the ability to stage and plan for their own build, while working side by side with industry professionals.

Similar programs have been delivered with excellent participation rates at Morialta and Whyalla High Schools and Aldinga Payinthi College.

“To see the excitement and pride these students take in their work, and to hear them talk about career pathways in construction beyond school makes a huge difference to these young adults. This is a game changer for families and the community.”

Ruth Mussger, Principal, Murray Bridge High School

Real-World Experience for Undergraduates

Statistically, we understand that when students are supported with mentorship and access to real-world experience, they are more likely to complete their studies, and add more value to the industry.

In 2017, Sarah launched its Cadet Program, offering funding and employment grants to engineering and construction management students at the University of South Australia and Adelaide University.

Each year, Sarah provides four students with the equivalent of a minimum of 12 weeks full-time, paid employment in a range of projects and roles across the organisation, and $3000 to assist with the costs of studying.

Our leadership team works with each cadet to determine their interests and passions and provide the best environments for growth and development.

Cadets regularly report that they are more engaged in their studies and have significantly improved their grades by having context to their education.

I am pleased that to date, more than 90% of participants have accepted positions in Sarah’s Graduate Program and have remained employed with us, having determined that our values are a good fit for their own.

“Being involved in the Monarch project has fast-tracked my learning, and now everything I do at Uni makes a lot more sense. The project team has taken an interest in my professional development, and I am exposed to learnings from all staff, and actively involved in the construction meetings that occur on site.”

Ellie-May Saunders, Cadet Program Participant

Developing the Next Generation of Construction Professionals

Upon completion of their undergraduate studies, Sarah’s cadets are invited to join our Graduate Program, with a focus on developing technical and leadership capabilities.

They are provided with a ‘licence to learn’; encouraged to be curious and innovative, even if this means making good mistakes – often the best way to accelerate learning.

Graduates are rotated through our business units to explore the multiple pathways open to them, including project management, contract administration, site management, commercial and estimating functions, and QHSE management.

Participants also receive coaching in leadership and values development, front-line management, and all aspects of well-being.

All graduates spend time in Sarah’s unique, in-house Solutions Centre, a purpose-built innovation hub and training centre housed in our Regency Park warehouse, and home to more than 15 interactive ‘mini projects’ reflecting industry best practice and complex construction challenges.

This consistency of experience has led to teams that are positive and productive, developed within the same framework and promoting similar values regardless of their chosen role.

“I was lucky enough to be awarded the Sarah Constructions Grant in my 4th year at university, where I obtained work as a construction cadet within the estimating team. This year was vital to my initial growth, as it allowed me to gain key fundamentals and develop an understanding of what it takes to be a successful construction professional. The graduate program was that next stage in my career, which allowed me to continue to grow and build upon my knowledge.”

Tyler Moulds, Estimator and Graduate Program Participant

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