These hints and tips come from real-world experiences of National Skills Academy for Construction (NSAfC) project leaders and co-ordinators.
Managers and senior administrators promoted within companies were often unable to complete qualifications that would benefit their new roles.
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.
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.
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.
To help unemployed people aged between 16 and 25 to get ready for work, by boosting confidence and offering experience of a real working environment.
We teamed up with the Princes Trust who were running a 12-week personal development course for young unemployed people in the Barnsley area, and offered a full day of activities to 10 of their students. The day included presentations, site tours, networking and team building exercise aimed at increasing job knowledge and confidence. We set them a team challenge in which they took different roles to deliver a project to time and budget. They also met a range of employees, including apprentices, graduates and managers to make contacts and find out about the many routes into the industry.
We had very positive feedback from participants and plenty of interest expressed in construction careers. Many requested to do similar activities again during the programme.
It is possible to collaborate with local and national organisations and offer openings for young people to gain valuable insights into working in construction, providing real benefit for communities.
To encourage more women to take leadership and management roles in construction.
With the help of the women’s career charity, Chwarae Teg, some of our female employees attended a ‘career spa’ to help them identify, develop and maximise their strengths and gain confidence to become successful team leaders. Following this they took part in a 6-week leadership course.
A group of 10 female employees passed an Institute of Leadership and Management Level 2 qualification in leadership and team skills. Participants reported that they had felt inspired and empowered, and that they now had the confidence and skills to grow as team leaders.
Investing in skills and building confidence has significant benefits for individuals and their employers. You can support women in your workforce by working with organisations, such as Chwarae Teg, which have tried and tested programmes to enhance careers development for women.
To educate people who deliver careers advice and guidance to young people about the hundreds of different careers available in construction.
We offered a continuing professional development (CPD) day for careers advisers to address any information gaps they may have about the sector. With the help of the National Careers Service, which advertised the event to local schools and created a delegate pack, we lined up talks from graduates and apprentices about career pathways. We invited participants to a live construction site and introduced them to a range of employees who talked about their experiences and job routes. After a question and answer session, we gave out goodie bags with information brochures and mementos of the day.
We raised awareness about construction job pathways and possibilities for those who advise young people when they make important career decisions at school. Our presentation in an onsite training facility helped to drive home the realities of construction work and the range of options available.
Influencing the influencers is a highly effective means of spreading your message and promoting construction among young people. With the right tools and resources, careers advisers can give informed guidance about what is possible in the construction sector, and not fall back on outdated misperceptions and faulty assumptions.
To enable local people to improve their employability and get them ready for any potential job openings on the project or in the local area.
We held a successful taster day for 30 local people to develop their team building skills. From that, 12 of the most promising candidates gained a 2-week work experience placement covering a wide range of employability skills including a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) test. They received personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep and use for future job opportunities, and one-to-one mentoring from the site foreman and other employees. The candidates finished the placement by giving celebration presentations about what they had learned.
All candidates passed their tests and received CSCS cards, which most main contractors require construction workers to hold. We were able to employ 5 of the candidates who completed the course on the project in different roles according to their strongest abilities. All successful candidates were given apprenticeship opportunities to develop their roles.
Taster days are a valuable tool for organisations too, helping them to identify participants who would most benefit from work placements, and further employment opportunities. Investment in training and protective equipment creates a social legacy even after projects complete, opening up possibilities for long-term careers in construction, whether with you or other companies.
To give students an understanding about the huge range of career roles and opportunities in construction.
We created a 5-day work experience programme that gave a taste of what construction can offer, from electrical and civil engineering to land surveying and community relations. It was important to speak to the local schools to make sure that what we could offer matched with what the students needed from the school perspective. We also organised interviews with the students to find out their interests, create real-world experiences and maximise the benefits. Students were treated as new employees, attending induction and trying out elements of each role in half-day sessions.
We received exceptional feedback from the school’s business partnership manager, who said the students had been completely inspired. One of them had been set on electrical engineering before the placement, but by the end he realised that it was community relations were his true interests lay.
Liaison with schools beforehand enabled us to tailor the course to their needs, while the half-day tasters enhanced knowledge without disrupting the day-to-day running of the project.
To take advantage of publicity opportunities offered by National Apprenticeship Week and raise the profile construction careers.
We enrolled 8 of our apprentices as Construction Ambassadors to go into schools and colleges and talk about their experiences and various routes into construction during National Apprenticeships Week. Some also attended an industry day at a local academy, getting students involved in team building exercises that focused on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills in a Lego towers event. In schools they talked to students about what apprenticeships were like and conducted mock interviews. They were also able to introduce them to local employers who explained that it was a good time to get involved in construction.
We linked our events into National Apprenticeship Week as part of a wider celebration of the positive impact apprenticeships have on individual, businesses and the economy at large. Our apprentices understood and remembered what it was like as school students and were able to give the right information about the world of work to reassure and inspire. The events were beneficial to the students as well as the Construction Ambassadors.
National and local events can serve as a useful peg from which to showcase the opportunities available at your organisation and in construction as a whole. They help facilitate conversations with local organisations and provide a compelling context for general collaboration.
To explain to local community that construction can be considerate and can benefit rather than impact the local environment.
In a highway improvement scheme, we undertook a range of environmental and ecological measures to mitigate the impact of our work. We wanted the local community to understand how we were working to benefit local wildlife, including a number of protected species. Our environmental adviser, an external ecologist and a local wildlife charity came together to talk to local schools to explain our measures to protect great crested newts, bats, badgers and barn owls. We also brought in live owls for the children to interact with.
We had great feedback from the schools, local community and parish council, and were in high demand to continue to raise awareness on environmental issues. We also demonstrated that we were considerate contractors.
Carrying out environmental mitigation measures is only half of the job. It is at least as important to communicate your efforts to local schools and organisations, so they can understand that construction can be a force for positive change in the community.
To nurture potential interest in engineering and construction among local school students.
We approached local schools for students most likely to take an interest and found a group of A-Level Geography and Science students who wanted to find out about the technical and environmental aspects of our work.
We arranged 2 visits 2 weeks apart so that all 30 students could come to site and find out how we accommodated environmental sustainability during construction work.
One of our young engineers, a female environmental specialist, and a school-leaver apprentice each put on a presentation about the project and their career pathways, taking questions at the end.
Following the visit some of the students were inspired to take part in our onsite work experience opportunities.
School visits to site can engage and inspire young people, and usefully introduce both students and teachers to civil engineering and a host of career pathways in construction. Visits are even more effective if they can be followed up with work placements.
To enhance skills throughout the supply chain, enhance performance in business partners and create opportunities for collaboration in training and development.
We looked to work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and align them to a high standard that we could adopt throughout the supply chain. Modules included both hard skills – such as business finance, contract management, quality assurance and behavioural safety – and softer personal skills, such as performance management, human resources, negotiation skills and social media training.
We found a high level of commitment and enthusiasm from our supply chain to improve knowledge and skills, and appreciated the time the SMEs took out of their operations to train, enhance their businesses and ultimately upskill the industry at large.
This can be a win-win for all participants, enhancing the performance of individual businesses, while improving skills and productivity across an entire group. Upskilling the supply chain can also be viewed as part of a long-term sustainable business model that creates enduring economic, environmental and social value.
To raise the profile of engineering among women, supporting diversity and inclusion and addressing the engineering skills shortage.
We invited three female engineering students from the local college to find out what working in construction was really like with a week-long work experience programme on site. We found shadowing opportunities that demonstrated the different routes into the industry, including apprenticeships, and matched them with a female engineer on our staff who could pass on her special insights.
The students expressed a strong interest in following an apprenticeship programme and left the placement with a much better knowledge about both the role of civil engineer and how to get into the sector.
Companies should always be thinking about how to attract more women and other underrepresented groups into the sector to maintain the drive for a diverse and inclusive workforce – for example, by getting involved with National Women in Engineering, which has been pushing to change perceptions.