BLOG: Gill Roberts on shaping construction careers through educational partnerships
North West social value manager Gill Roberts emphasises the significance of collaboration between industry and educational institutes in shaping future careers, making students ‘work ready’ and encouraging diversity in the construction industry. A fitting endorsement for International Women's Day which, this year, falls within National Careers Week.
Businesses of every shape and size are always looking to our education system to help bridge skills gaps. In the built environment we are aware it cuts both ways – and at Morgan Sindall Construction we have made commitments and formed partnerships with education providers that help us reach out and support young people in getting a foothold in the workplace.
National Careers Week is a great opportunity for us to introduce young people to what our industry has to offer. We work closely with education providers across the UK to show young people about the different careers open to them and the many pathways into the industry.
There perhaps was a time when the people who joined the construction industry mostly did so because a family member already worked in the sector. Today, equality of opportunity is hugely important, and we want to make sure that construction is open to a diverse pool of talent and people from different backgrounds.
There is no shame in having some self-interest here: skills shortages are an issue in our industry and we accept the need to work alongside education providers in breaking down any barriers that may prevent young people from coming forward.
Promoting diversity and inclusion through education partnerships
This is a fitting sentiment on International Women’s Day, when we consider that female employees still make up only around 14% of the construction industry workforce.
In the North West, we are making great strides in this area through our university partnerships which have helped us to implement a 50/50 gender balance on our early career programme intakes.
Pictured right are our current North West early careers employees currently engaged with degree apprenticeships, graduate positions and year out placements.
T-Levels create further opportunity for diversity and shaping careers from an even earlier stage.
We are currently hosting 12 T Level students from The Manchester College who represent diverse ethnicities and backgrounds with an equal mixture of gender.
T Levels allow those interested in the built environment to engage with the industry and gain first hand experience of many career options open to them. We have found the T Level programme to be a more direct approach that has allowed us to put the focus back on the person and in developing their skills and unique qualities that are of value to our industry, rather than focusing simply on their qualifications.
This change in recruitment will move us to reflect the communities in which we live and work, and provide opportunities for young people who might not see university as an option.
Visit Morgan Sindall's Careers Page hereCareers
We want our young prospects to feel like they have a full understanding of what it means to work in construction and how each function works together to push our business forward. Through a mixture of classroom learning, as well as office and site-based experience, our goal is to make the young person work-ready, and the T-Level enhances holistic development to ensure that.
Working towards a greener future
Sustainability is a universal issue of high importance to the young people we want to work with. We are nurturing this keen interest as part of the learning process, by incorporating digital tools, such as Carbonica, to develop an understanding of how our industry is evolving to address modern issues.
We recently held a two day workshop with City of Liverpool College T Level students focusing on sustainability, and making students aware of the huge efforts the industry is taking to reduce carbon in the design and construction of buildings. The students were motivated by the information presented and recognised the substantial impact they could have on the environment by pursuing a career in construction.
So, my advice for careers week is to be confident in yourself and market the best version of you. If you can demonstrate a good work ethic and a keen eye for knowledge, then there’s a breadth of opportunity for you. Your drive is your key to taking control of your career."
Morgan Sindall works with colleges and education providers up and down the country, so if this is something that interests you, or you’re keen to explore construction or the built environment, we recommend you check out our careers page and speak to your academic advisor.