An industry-led initiative has been launched to encourage service leavers and veterans into careers in the UK construction sector.
BuildForce, funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) following a successful pilot, aims to help reduce construction skills gaps by helping ex-military personnel – through mentoring, work placements and training – into worthwhile careers.
CITB's Industry Relations Director Mark Noonan said: “The skills of ex-servicemen and women are ideal for the construction sector. Forces personnel are natural team players, used to getting results in challenging situations and often have excellent leadership skills.
“CITB is pleased to support Buildforce because the Armed Forces are an excellent source of construction managers, surveyors, civil engineers and tradespeople. CITB looks forward to helping forces personnel make a swift and smooth transition into a rewarding sector that has many opportunities.”
The initiative was officially launched at an event at the Tower of London on Tuesday 31 January, with more than 20 companies pledging their support.
Early BuildForce successes include:
- a former Regimental Administration Warrant Officer for the Kings Royal Hussars and now head of Carillion’s construction training centre in Bristol
- a serving Royal Engineer given the chance of two-week work placement working with EY on their Network Rail engagement, and set to join EY full-time in March
BuildForce chair Andy Parker, ex RAF squadron leader now director of defence at contractor Morgan Sindall, says: “UK construction needs to find over 220,000 new workers by 2019.
"With 120,000 ex-services personnel currently without work in the UK and around 14,000 more leaving the services annually, BuildForce aims to smooth the military-to-construction transition.”
Other speakers at the launch event included, Mark Farmer, who in his October 2016 review of the construction labour market (“Modernise or Die”) described the industry’s workforce size and demographic as “the real ticking time bomb”.
“Based purely on existing workforce age and current levels of new entrant attraction, we could see a 20-25% decline in the available labour force within a decade," he said.
"This… would undermine the UK’s ability to deliver critical social and physical infrastructure, homes and built assets required by other industries to perform their core functions.”
BuildForce is backed by its founding partners: Carillion, Crossrail, EY, Lendlease, Morgan Sindall and Wilson James.
Echoing the UK Government’s ‘Armed Forces Covenant’, BuildForce invites construction industry organisations to sign the BuildForce Charter.
By appointing individuals as ambassadors, champions and mentors, companies, large and small, can personally engage with service leavers and veterans and help them achieve long-term employment.
A national network of champions, ambassadors and mentors will now support ex-military personnel into new roles across the construction and wider built environment sectors.