Construction offers opportunities for everyone, regardless of their backgrounds
If we offer them to disadvantaged young people and support them they can achieve great things
The fourth Building Pathways event, sponsored by Kier, was be held on Tuesday 26th June 2018 at their head office Tempsford Hall, Sandy, Bedfordshire.
Over 40 construction professionals heard what a variety of different organisations were doing to support young people enter the industry.
Kevin O’Connor of Durkan, who is a Trustee of YBUK, welcomed everyone to the event and gave a brief history of YBUK over the last 20 years, which began as a group of charities and social enterprises, who ran construction training programmes for disadvantaged young people, meeting up to discuss best practise – rather like today!
He explained how he became involved after attending a Young Builder of the Year Awards Ceremony at the House of Commons and how Durkan pro-actively gave opportunities to disadvantaged young people, one of whom, Chidi Nnebe, became the 2016 Young Builder of the Year.
Louchavan Lemard of Think Big Developments gave an inspirational talk about his journey from failing his GCSE’s and narrowly avoiding falling into the gang culture that surrounded him. How he had “blagged” his way into college, started off doing a Level 1 course, really enjoyed it, was the top of his class and gained an NVQ Level 3 as an electrician. Once he started work he quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a supervisor and manager – making the most of the opportunities offered him. But this wasn’t enough! He wanted to help other disadvantaged young people, of any background, and as a result set up Think Big Developments which refurbishes properties in Nottingham giving opportunities to young people to gain work experience and become apprentices.
He played a video, made by BBC East Midlands, which told the harrowing story of one of his employees from holding his dying friend in his arms, who had been stabbed, to becoming a joiner.
Louchavan’s story epitomises what YBUK is about.
John Leicester, Secretary of YBUK and former National Education Manager of Barnardo’s, told how Barnardo’s had been one of the founding members of YBUK and that they were still involved supporting YBUK and more importantly still helping disadvantaged young people to gain an introduction to construction and whenever practicable supporting them into apprenticeships and employment.
He emphasised that by giving disadvantaged young people an opportunity you could transform their lives in a positive manner.
Lindsay Young of Clarkson Evans told us how they had grown their business over the last 20 years by taking on apprentices. She illustrated their approach stating that when, say, an accountant left the business, their immediate thoughts were to replace them with a new apprentice and promote from within.
They use this approach throughout the business, currently employing 250 apprentices in a workforce of 850 people (600 of whom began life with them as an apprentice), which enabled them to wire up nearly 20,000 new homes accross the UK in 2017. All apprentices are trained at Clarkson Evans in house academy, with the average age being 21, although they have some apprentices who are over 40.
For them age and background is not an issue, what they look for are people willing to learn and progress there careers with the company. Of the management team, 85% had started off as apprentices, which demonstrates their desire to develop their own workforce.
Alex Aldous of Kier introduced their “Shaping Your World” programme, which is based on engaging schoolchildren from primary school upwards, using an “Avatar” based guide to illustrate the wide range of construction careers and the opportunities to work in the UK and throughout the world.
Why do this?
Kier want to demonstrate the sheer scale of the built environment to schoolchildren, making them aware of how it impacts on all our lives. How the industry has been transformed becoming safe to work in, environmentally aware, not just site based – Kier have over 2,000 different job roles.
She concluded by giving everyone an “Awesome guide to a career in the built environment” – with more initiatives like this there should not be the recurring problem of skills shortages in the future!
Kevin O’Connor, on behalf of Youthbuild UK, closed proceedings by thanking everyone for attending, Kier for sponsoring the event and to all the speakers for their interesting, entertaining and thought provoking presentations.
He also took the opportunity to urge everyone to see if they had any potential applicants for the Young Builder of the Year Awards and to encourage them to apply.