Robert Smith of Hays Montrose tackles your work problems. This week, teambuilding for architects and how to get a health and safety qualification
Q: Robert, I run an architectural practice of about 20 people. I'd like to set up management training courses on team working. What external organisations offer this and how much would it cost?

A: The first thing you need to ask yourself is, what do I want to get out of this? Then you need to look at your staff. Paintballing might please the 20-year-old males who work with you, but might not go down with everyone else.

The organisation you choose to do the training should help you decide on the course. Events can range from the lighthearted (It's a Knockout or quad racing) to games where teams compete to solve mental, physical and creative problems against the clock. What is common to all is that through the fun of taking part, participants come away with a set of actions that should be implemented once back at work.

Prices for events will vary according to the number of people and the activities. A team of 20 attempting a variety of events such as an assault course, crossing minefields or laser clay shooting, for example, could set you back £3000. If you don't fancy tackling the great outdoors, a day of mental agility and problem-solving tasks will cost about £1000 for a group of 12, which covers the cost of the tutor and the running of the course.

The best place to start looking is the Corporate Hospitality and Event Association. It is a trade association whose members are vetted and operate to strict guidelines. Contact it on 01932-831441 or

Q: I am a 32-year-old site foreman and I would like to train to be a health and safety manager. How can I do this and what qualifications do I need?

A: As companies recognise the importance of safety for their staff, so we are noticing that more and more large contractors are looking to recruit professional health and safety practitioners.

One of our recent placements, a health and safety manager told me how he trained as a joiner and had experience of working on site, which he believes gave him a good grounding in site problems. He studied part-time for two years to get his National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health diploma.

Once qualified, his income went up more than £5000. He says some of the key skills required for the job include being diplomatic, being able to motivate people and seeing see yourself as part of the site team.

To find out about the health and safety courses available, try the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (0116-257 3100 or The Construction Industry Training Board also has information (01485-577577 or

One of the best-recognised qualifications is the NEBOSH general certificate. This is a 12-day course that can be studied for in blocks or day release. For professionals, this should be followed up with the NEBOSH certificate in construction safety and health.