Hints and tips

These hints and tips come from real-world experiences of National Skills Academy for Construction (NSAfC) project leaders and co-ordinators.

Be clear to your contacts about what you can offer and clear with your colleagues about who is responsible for certain elements of the programme. For schools and colleges, liaise so that work placements fit well into their timetables; it is best to get offers out early in the academic year so they can make the appropriate arrangements. At college, students need to have 2 weeks’ work experience and your approaches to facilitate this should be welcome.

The programme and duration for every work placement is often different – but the two constants are that it suits your business and inspires the students. Look for variety, real-world tasks that promote independent thinking, and variety; avoid boring routine chores such as making coffee and photocopying. For more ideas, download the work inspiration how-to guide from the National Grid.

Carry out risk assessments and any pre-planning, including getting the right sizes of personal protective equipment (PPE) and arranging for all-day supervision or buddying.

If you intend to undertake drug and alcohol testing for adult candidates, you’ll need to give advance notice to all parties. Provide company policy and site rules for all onsite workers and Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card holders.

To focus your efforts on the right people, you may want to consider a taster day as part of a selection strategy. Sometimes it is easier to organise for school students to come in pairs.

Confirm transport arrangements, times, lunch provision, and location for breaks or refreshments. Say if students need to bring a packed lunch or dinner money.

Challenge:

Managers and senior administrators promoted within companies were often unable to complete qualifications that would benefit their new roles.

Response:

We put on an information session about adult apprenticeships in management, business administration, customer service, and team leadership at Level 2 and above, backed by a training provider who had approached us with full funding for the courses.

Six of our team signed up to a variety of apprenticeship frameworks, including a diploma, an NVQ, and English, Maths and IT qualifications. An assessor came in every month to help them with their components.

Results:

They became fully qualified for the work they do, which was good for their CVs and future career progression. Some were keen to do the next level as they found the experience so personally and professionally rewarding.

Takeaways:

Fully funded in-house training for senior team members is a great for any business, as it provides key qualifications that make up the backbone of an effective administrative team –without them ever having to leave the office.

CCs are employed by clients (usually public sector bodies procuring infrastructure projects) and usually take on the role in addition to their existing position, often as part of an economic development team. In addition to some PSC roles, a CC often:

  • liaises with colleagues to ensure that the NSAfC KPIs are included in relevant planning documentation and contract awards 
  • works with the main contractor to develop and deliver the ESP
  • identifies local stakeholders who can assist with the delivery of the KPIs.

Careers events

Careers events are an important means of raising awareness about the diversity of opportunities and job roles in the construction industry, and promoting the sector as a whole, particularly to underrepresented groups.

Each careers event you organise is worth 1 outcome against KPI 3. For more information, see KPIs: meeting your targets.

Targeting your audience 

Students and undergraduates should not be your sole focus. Targeting influencers, such as careers staff, training and employment organisations, and community groups, will help to create a snowball effect in efforts to overturn outdated perceptions about the nature of construction work and who can do it.

This assists industry’s outreach to people not in education, employment or training, and anyone who may otherwise be discouraged from looking at a career in construction because of misconceptions.

Look out of national and regional events, such as National Apprenticeship Week, that you can use to tie in to the events you are organising. You can check for careers events on the Go Construct website.

Find out if you have any STEM Ambassadors in-house to help you.

Further information

Go Construct is our website aimed at young people and anyone interested in construction careers, featuring useful information on work experience, and marketing and educational resources that you can use in your career event.

Experience Construction Programme is a CITB work experience scheme helping employers help young people get a taste for construction.

Construction Youth Trust is a charity helping young people in England and Wales find training and employment opportunities in the construction industry.

Inspiring Futures is a leading provider of careers information, advice and guidance, working with skills across the UK and internationally.

Inspiring The Future aims to motivate young people by giving them opportunities to meet role models doing exciting and interesting jobs.

STEM Learning is the largest provider of education and careers support in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Find out how employers can get involved.

Tomorrow’s Engineers is bringing schools and industry together to grow talent in engineering.

WISE works with business and industry to promote the success of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Get to know all the subcontractors in your supply chain and attend relevant meetings so you can identify how the NSAfC approach can help them improve their existing competencies. You can use our example Subcontractor questionnaire to help you get a picture of their current skills and training situation.

Talk to the project manager and find out who usually deals with training or recruitment and include them in training events. Make yourself known as the go-to person for onsite for skills and training matters, and be available to them and be consistent in your approach. It’s important that they know about the NSAfC KPIs, and that you give them the support they need – for example, to take on apprentices – to fulfil any contractual requirements.

You may need to make regular onsite visits, and to prompt them to send you their training certificates, training plans, number of trainees on site and other evidence you may need. Lack of responses to your emails should be followed up in person. It may be that they just need your help to complete some paperwork – and going through it with them is the most effective option.

You could also arrange for your local CITB representative to make regular visits to keep subcontractors up to speed on access to funding, approved training courses and levy issues.