An initiative to address the skills shortage in the construction sector and make the industry more diverse and inclusive is calling for businesses to get involved and inspire the next generation of workers.
Organised by Built Environment Skills in Schools (BESS), a series of Construction Careers Weeks are taking place this autumn in Greater Manchester, Birmingham and London. The weeks aim to take positive steps in helping to reduce the skills shortage by informing and inspiring young people – with the help of businesses and employers – so they have a better understanding of their built environment, and the varied careers contained within it.
Manchester Construction Careers Weeks will start 24 September, focusing on diversity and gender, with the Inspire Summit at the Bridgewater Hall on 25 September a key date. Barbara Res – the first woman to oversee the construction of a major skyscraper, Trump Tower, is the headline speaker. As well as encouraging schools, colleges and universities to register and bring students, the Inspire Summit organisers are keen to get relevant businesses involved with speaking opportunities, exhibition spaces and attendance.
In Birmingham, the careers week will start 8 October, focusing on the future of construction and tech, with a number of activities taking place at UK Construction Week at the NEC Wednesday 10 October. Finally, London Construction Careers Week will takeplace from 15 October and focus on past, present and future. Additional activities will take place at London Build Wednesday 24 October.
With thousands of students across the country expected to take part, BESS is urging businesses to get involved. Businesses can get involved by demonstrating how tech such as virtual reality is used in the industry, site tours, classroom demonstrations and digital broadcasts. Previous years have seen digital broadcasts from railway lines and from the top of a crane.
Kathryn Lennon-Johnson, founder of BESS, said: “Last year we held Construction Careers Week in Birmingham and had over 400 students take part in all kinds of activities. When we first met the students, on average only 2 per cent stated an interest in a role in construction and less than 10 per cent could name job roles other than architect or bricklayer. After meeting with businesses and employers, 60 per cent of students said they were surprised about the breadth of opportunities.
“Meeting and engaging with the students, whether on site or through the use of technology, is a vital step in attracting more young people into the sector, as well as making it more diverse and inclusive. With many schools and colleges across all three regions taking part this year, it’s important we have as many different businesses on board.”