Being per tasked with complete project delivery for a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant to generate electricity for more than one million homes and businesses is not a job to be taken lightly.

Electricity Supply Board International (ESBI) invited Astute to tender for this job in February 2014, and after being awarded the project, recruitment began in March 2014.

Based in Manchester on a brownfield site where a previous station had once stood, Carrington Power Station was the first CCGT Power Station built by ESBi in the UK since Marchwood Power Station, Southampton, in 2008.


Carrington Power Station needed an elite team and fast, comprising of experienced Management, Engineering, Maintenance, and Operations staff. This was a challenge due to the general STEM skills-shortage combined with increased competition for experience driven by the boom of smaller power generation assets coming to market.

ESBi had a responsibility to ensure staff were not travelling for too long following shift work, and the station required staff to be able to respond quickly to issues out of hours. The plant was located in an area where commuting could be difficult and housing was expensive making relocation a challenge; this restricted the radius in which potential candidates needed to be located.

Finally, to achieve the high standards expected, the team at Astute needed to find a way of having a local presence despite being located over 250 miles away in Portsmouth. 


Astute’s Power Team had responsibility for delivering this huge project and to help them do so engaged a former CCGT Plant Manager, Geoff King, as a Technical Consultant to help them ensure the success of the project.

Following an initial meeting with Carrington’s Senior Management Team, including a representative from ESBi’s HR function, Astute developed a rigorous recruitment strategy agreeing on project timelines, official communications, documents as well as the recruitment process. 

In summary:

  • Client branded adverts were placed on technical job boards as well as in local newspapers (Manchester Evening News) and industry specific trade journals (Utility Weekly).
  • Advert responses were collated and initially screened to identify those most suitable.
  • Consultants proactively searched internal and relevant external databases to identify additional candidates. They also networked within their professional connections to find those that were only passively considering opportunities.
  • Candidates were both personally and technically qualified against the requirements by means of an initial telephone interview.
  • Assessment centres where organised close to the power station for 1st stage face to face interviews conducted by Consultants from the Power Team and the Technical Consultant. The process included psychometric testing, technical testing and a presentation which was recorded. This information was presented to the client using Astute’s unique i-intro candidate delivery tool – an online portal.
  • Astute organised 2nd stage interviews with the clients Senior Management Team including venue hire and catering.
  • The team offered to onboard candidates, co-write offer letters, attain references, assist with relocation arrangements and arrange medical examinations.

Members of the team temporarily relocated from Portsmouth to the local area to provide that personal touch, working lengthy hours and staying overnight, to see that everyone felt fully supported and had full comprehension of what was expected from them.

Astute worked with the client to identify transferable skills found locally to help overcome the skills gap and location issues. The search also meant looking for candidates that were able to relocate for the areas where the required skills could not be compromised.



In the space of five months Astute had completed the bulk of the work on time. The team worked closely with the Senior Management team to overcome issues surrounding a few positions where the skills gap had a significant effect on the ability to meet deadlines, but through collaboration with the client Astute had worked hard to overcome the issue whilst sticking within budget.

As well as supervising the full life-cycle management of the recruitment process Astute continued to deliver: a further Project Engineer, Inventory Controller and Asset Manager were placed.

The station is now successfully up and running and in full operation mode.

Carrington Project Key Facts*:

  • 4.8 million hours worked on the project
  • 4,893 workers involved in the project from commissioning to development
  • 850 workers on site during peak construction times
  • 40 permanent staff on site
  • A Green Travel Plan was implemented to transport staff from car parks to site each day
  • 35,000 m^3 of concrete poured



"When considering recruitment for our new CCGT asset Carrington Power Station, we wanted to lessen the strain on resources and time burden of recruitment by selecting a recruitment partner. We invited a number of companies to tender for this opportunity and awarded the contract to Astute based on their demonstrable experience and presence in the industry. With a significant background delivering such projects we felt confident they could deliver the business-critical staff we required.

Over a period of several months Astute sourced a significant number of qualified people to provide a selection of candidates for each role we required, utilising industry specialists with power generation O&M experience to add additional value to the process. We were keen to build a high-calibre team and had some challenging requirements around location but nonetheless Astute managed to fill most of our roles within the initial shortlists provided, including a few roles that were initially outside of scope.

There were a couple of roles that were more challenging to fill, but Astute continued to work closely with us until the last position was filled; in fact, they continue to support our station as well as the wider ESB business with ongoing recruitment needs.

Overall we are happy with the service we received from Astute and would recommend their service."


Ciaran McManus

Plant Manager