Back in March, I attended a CITB Construction Ambassador Course, and I have recently received my certificate. I am looking forward to encouraging new people to think about working in our industry – both young and perhaps not so young! I know only too well that there are many people out there with transferable skills who could be a valuable part of our sector. My own ‘career path’ is somewhat unconventional; my first proper job was as a geology assistant at a Cornish tin mine, working underground and above ground. Following a mining geology degree, I ended up working in London in advertising & recruitment (!) and then trained on the job to become a senior petrophysicist for an oil & gas consultancy before taking a break to have my family. My next foray was into project management and European funding and this led to over a decade working to develop skills and training in the heritage construction sector, setting up and managing a non-profit membership organisation to do so. And since 2015 of course, I’ve been at the helm at SPRA.
The people who want to be in construction will enter the industry regardless, but what about the others? There is no ‘type’ of person for construction, and we have a myriad of exciting job roles to fill now and in the future. With Grenfell and Carillion, we need to work harder than ever to promote opportunities and encourage the best into our industry. Offering work experience is a good place to start and here’s some useful advice from Build UK…
“Work experience can mean different things to different people. For 14 years olds it might be a two-week work placement to get a feel for the world of work, while for an apprentice it will be working on their skill in a real life situation with one or more employers over a 3 year period.
This demand for a range of work experiences is likely to grow as there is a move to promote more 16-18 year olds to consider a vocational route, and the Dept for Education (DEC) are tasking schools with new employability targets, stipulating that all secondary school students have meaningful employer engagements during every year of their education. This Guide to Successful Work Experience should help members who may be considering offering work experience.
How employers respond to the call for work experience will partly be driven by their own approach to training and which segment of the community fits with their CSR aims. So the DEC approach will suit some companies, while other charities such as Construction Youth Trust, Enabling Enterprise, Buildforce or Bounceback will fit the bill for those who want to work with disadvantaged groups to raise aspirations, help those leaving the armed forces transition into civilian life or support ex-offenders get their lives back on track by learning new skills. And note that each of the various bodies will ask for different levels of commitment from their employer partners. Flexibility around commitment is the key here – we want employers to find the right partnership that works for them.
It’s worth noting that CITB are liaising with the Careers Enterprise Company (CEC) in England who are leading on putting schools in touch with employers to help them meet their employability targets. So we expect this area to grow and are keen to see construction properly represented. The CEC are in the middle of setting up local enterprise hubs, and we will share more information on how to get involved when we have the detail.
So our advice for an employer wanting to promote the sector is to first get some of their staff registered as Go Construct Ambassadors, get involved with Open Doors and consider what work experience offerings they can provide, and then find a suitable partner organisation.”
Source: Cathie Clarke, CEO & Build UK