School visits are the way to tackle skills shortages says Beard chief
Construction firms could help tackle the chronic skills shortage in the south by having a stronger classroom presence, according to the chief executive of regional contractor Beard.
Mark Beard believes that chronic construction skills shortage in the south of England could be tackled within a few years if more contractors worked with local schools to improve careers advice and engage students at an early age.
“Unfortunately only a few young people see construction as a viable, well-paid or exciting industry to work in because careers information at school is generally inadequate and outdated,” says Mark Beard. “There is also a perception that construction is a physically demanding industry to work in that’s unsuited to women, which is not the case. Our industry needs to recruit many more women if we are going to resolve the current skills crisis. Young men and women are sadly missing out on a huge range of fantastic, high-salary career opportunities in construction which require all sorts of different skills-sets and specialisms.”
He added: “Construction firms across the region are ideally placed to promote these careers and inspire and recruit the next generation of professionals and trades people but we need to get much more active and involved in schools and colleges. We’re up against stiff competition from other industries which are doing a much better job of attracting the best young people into their sectors because they are enthusing students from an early age.”
The industry must also build better relationships with careers advisors and teachers, said Beard, as well as ensuring that they have high-quality information and materials that provide accurate and informed advice.
“Students need to know that building London’s Olympic Park, a life-saving hospital or a cutting-edge university research facility, is as exciting and important as a career in finance, medicine or IT,” said Beard. “We need to be communicating this to youngsters when they are in primary school so they have a positive image of construction from an early age. We also need to work more collaboratively with teachers and careers advisors on industry-related educational visits, special building projects and fun activities which can be linked to the school curriculum.”
He added: “By stepping into the classroom and sharing insights about apprenticeships, work placements and our own career paths, we can help young people make informed choices. We can also advise them on the skill-sets and qualifications they’ll need to succeed in the digital construction world of the future.”
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This article was published on 1 Mar 2016 (last updated on 1 Mar 2016).