March 04

A Cornish-based mining consultancy business expands nationwide with graduate workforce

A company that uses geological data to mitigate mining risk to developers is celebrating its most successful period of development in nearly forty years of trading, thanks to its graduate recruits.

Mining Searches UK was set up in 1978, with the current Managing Director Paul Raglan joining the team of three in 1994. But it wasn’t until the recession hit that MD Paul managed to tap into ESF-funded support from Unlocking Potential in order to realise the business’ true potential and grow his team to thirteen employees and doubling his turnover.

Based in Redruth and originally known as Cornwall Mining Services Limited, Paul recognised the only way to survive the economic downturn was to expand his business from the South West into the whole of the UK and in 2011 he employed his first graduate with support from Unlocking Potential in order to achieve this goal. The company re-branded to Mining Searches UK in 2011 to reflect their growing market and success nationwide. Last year their business outside the South West grew by 30% and this year it will grow by a further 25%, thanks to Paul’s approach to market expansion and embracing modern technologies.

Unlocking Potential receives ESF (European Social Fund) Convergence investment to help graduates boost their career prospects with SMEs (small and medium sized businesses) in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  A Combined Universities in Cornwall programme managed by Cornwall College, it places graduates with businesses to undertake specific projects and offers support including valuable expert mentoring as part of their career development.

Initially, Unlocking Potential helped Paul to recruit Matthew Lewis, a GIS graduate from Plymouth University whose award-winning work reduced the report timeframe from 10 working days to just two, by transferring the paper-based geological plans and charts into a digitised format.

By offering this new service in a niche market, Paul says the graduate project was instrumental in keeping them ahead of the curve – and the competition: "I needed a graduate skilled in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to transform our way of working and Unlocking Potential helped provide the rest. They offer access to quality, enthusiastic graduates and give you assistance for the entire recruitment process. By providing the graduate with a specific project during their employment, it ensures there are measurable outcomes fed back to the business throughout.

Most important of all has been the access to experts and training for the graduate which means we’ve been able to generate some really specialist skills in-house - Paul

The business has continued to benefit from graduate talent via Unlocking Potential, with Paul taking on a number of other graduates to tackle a range of projects. These include refining the digitising of resources as well as developing cutting-edge IT back-up on geological sites to enable real time GIS updates. They have also developed software to allow clients to plot information directly onto the Mining Searches UK system and introduced the survey equipment which has revolutionised the way data is collected in the field.

One of their most recent graduates Aaron Moyle was taken on as a Geologist to help standardise and modernise geo-environmental site investigations. After leaving Cornwall to study for his Masters on Science in Geology at the University of Southampton, the former St Austell student returned home in 2014 after seeing his ideal job advertised through Unlocking Potential.

They made the transition from university to industry an easy and enjoyable one. By having a project defined with Unlocking Potential, I felt that I was of immediate use to the company, undertaking work that would help it progress. Eight months on and I still absolutely love my job - not only do I feel like I have become a competent geologist, I know that my project has already helped to streamline our work flow and that any ideas I have are seriously considered and where possible, implemented.

Senior Business Development Manager, Andy Peters has worked with the company to recruit and support all of their graduates. He says "The successful growth of this business is down to Paul’s vision and strategic plan which he saw go hand in hand with graduate recruitment. Each of the graduate’s projects were unique but each as important as the next, in order to achieve the business goals. His plans were complemented perfectly with the range of business support across Cornwall which he accessed to the best possible effect, not just in terms of Unlocking Potential’s range of services but also Superfast Broadband, Oxford Innovation’s Grow Cornwall programme and the BIG fund."

Paul says access to the rest of Unlocking Potential’s support, such as Fast Forward Groups and Connect events has cemented his own role as leader enabling him to feel confident his vision for the business’ growth is the right one and that not standing still is the best way to maintain the company’s success.

The company is also the first company to offer paid placements to Cornish undergraduates as part of the Brighter Cornwall programme. Brighter Cornwall is being delivered by Unlocking Potential and funded by Cornwall Council. The programme is designed to help undergraduates, who originate from Cornwall, gain paid work experience and make contacts in the Cornish business community.

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