On top of that, it gets regular individual requests from young hopefuls keen to get a feel for site work.
But guaranteeing useful experience on site is difficult, given health and safety considerations, not to mention everyday pressures on staff and resources.
Dr Vicky Hutchinson, Head of Social Value, knew there had to be a better way.
A true flavour of the industry
With the help of £28,443 in CITB funding for innovation, Vicky planned to design, develop and pilot a five-day course of stimulating activities that would give a flavour of real work in a range of construction careers. The course was named World of Work Experience, or WOWEX.
“We brought in an education consultant who interviewed widely across our job roles to create exciting course content and activities that would appeal to children, young people and adults alike,” Vicky says.
“The WOWEX course that emerged centres around a hypothetical project to build a small industrial unit.
“Participants compete in groups as fictional companies, bidding against each other to get the contract.
“Each day the task progresses and the career roles change, from bid development, design, estimation, risk assessment, compliance – all the aspects of a typical construction project.
“The course really helps to open the eyes of those who thought construction was just about bricklaying and plastering.
“As they take on the roles of estimators, contract managers, planners and quantity surveyors, they find themselves writing reports, giving presentations, visiting sites and making scale models.”
More employable, more confident
So far, 5 separate cohorts have done the WOWEX course, comprising people already training in construction, BTEC and A-level students, and young schoolchildren – a testament to its versatility. Hundreds of other students also attended taster sessions.
It has been hugely successful, with participants giving glowing feedback afterwards. Most telling of all, almost 9 out of 10 attendees said they would consider a career in construction. Before the course, it was fewer than 4 out of 10.
This, too, was from a diverse range of attendees, including significantly more women and black and minority ethnic people than currently work in the industry.