A-Z Of Employers: Tarmac

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The Independent Online

What does it do?

The company belongs to that small but select group of trade names, including Biro and Hoover, whose titles have slipped into colloquial English usage as generic product descriptions. The company, as well as producing the black stuff that makes up road surfaces, provides aggregates, mortar, screeds, concrete blocks and asphalt for numerous areas of the construction industry, and indirectly as components of everyday products such as paper, glass, cosmetics and toothpaste. It is also the UK's largest quarry operator. Formed in 1903 as the TarMacadam Syndicate Ltd, Tarmac has been central to the British infrastructure ever since. In 1944 it strengthened miles of roads in the South of England to carry D-Day's invasion traffic to the coast. Later it surfaced the Preston by-pass, which would become part of Britain's first motorway, the M6. It has also helped to build the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the M6 Toll Road, Ascot Racecourse and Terminal Five at Heathrow.

Vital Statistics

Tarmac has a presence in Europe, China, India and the Middle East and an annual turnover of £2.1bn. It employs 12,500 people worldwide, of whom 8,500 work in the UK.

The office

The largest concentration of staff, more than 500, is in the Wolverhampton HQ, centre to a network of scores of offices and sites around the country.

Is this you?

Tarmac takes about 20 graduates a year, from a mixture of disciplines, including engineering, IT, marketing and finance. Although a 2:1 is obligatory, Tarmac says it's more interested in the person than the degree.

The recruitment process

Online applications, via www.gradlife.co.uk, lead to phone interviews, an assessment centre, described as a fun and informal day, and a face-to-face interview with a business manager. For those taken on, the 12-month training period starts with a 30-day induction, which includes a week of leadership exercises at an outdoor activity centre. The remainder of the first year is tailored to each trainee's position, but all spend a considerable amount of time at a quarry, concrete plant, block factory or building site. The aim is to enable you to get enough first-hand on-site experience to complement the intellectual skills you bring with your degree. That way, says Tarmac, you'll be earning your salary from an early stage.

Top Dollar?

Salary levels for graduates are not set in concrete and differ according to each recruit's experience. So there's clearly some room for negotiation if you've got the nerve.

Beam me up Scotty?

Most graduates get a management job after their training. After three to four years, you could be an operations manager, procurement analyst, project engineer or in charge of a quarry in Dubai.

Who's the boss?

Mechanical engineer David Weston, who became chief executive earlier this year, joined the company after holding a string of senior positions with Shell.

Little known fact:

Tarmac used recycled books to provide an important part of the sub base of the M6 toll road.