From education to employment

How do we recruit new talent? Attracting the brightest young people to the built environment.

Emma Foster

There are plenty of ancient stereotypes about career opportunities in the built environment – but in 2021 it’s not what you may think it is.

From the construction site to the boardroom – they’re certainly no longer the preserve of the old guard – things are changing and there is appetite to do this.

Attracting a diverse mixture of young people to the built environment has always been a challenge – with one of the biggest blockers being the misconceptions around earning power, drawing many to the more conventional and well-known routes of high earning. UK Construction Online found that the average income for Trade and Construction workers was £38,704, some 20% higher than the average UK salary. Roles in the sector vary too, from construction site managers, through to civil engineers, chartered surveyors and marketers. It is a sector in need of talent.

You don’t need to have done a property related course necessarily to get into the sector, we’ve attracted talent from all corners of society – from the UK and further afield – from tech to pharma, banking to tourism (and of course, a few who have spotted us from within our own industry, too). We recently won an award for recruitment at the Business Culture Awards against out-of-industry competition, highlighting our continual learning mindset, our feedback culture and our owner-manager approach. But as I said, there’s more to do and we’re not the only business in the industry.

A few years ago, I introduced a Mount Anvil focused mentoring programme, to help bed in new colleagues and diversify the sector; we’d get together too to discuss how cultures and opportunities could improve. It was empowering. Fast forward to last year, we launched Makers & Mentors in partnership with the Mayor of London, with the first strand being a mentoring platform open to the whole industry, our competitors included! You’d think we’re crazy, but construction and development is about working together to build a better future – for those we build our homes and communities for and those who work tirelessly to do that.

We know that we need young people from diverse backgrounds because they can bring fresh perspective, new eyes and diversity of thought which is vitally important to our industry. The challenge starts at primary school level and today we’re working together as an industry to develop a presence that informs teachers and parents who will strongly influence children’s career choices as they grow up.

Mentoring is undoubtedly the most effective route into and upwards within our industry. Role models – and giving those role models wider publicity – have been essential to attracting young people and making them realise that they too can have a role within this industry and will be supported in it. The message is: there are people like you already onboard – nearly 150 of them are signed up to Makers & Mentors, ready to offer their insight, expertise and know-how to anyone wanting to learn and grow.

I remember leaving university and applying to a number of different roles to see if anything can stick, and which were companies that felt right. The recruitment process is key which is why we spend a lot of time recruiting the right people into our business so we can ensure a good cultural fit and empower them so they can succeed with us. As such we even offer them a payment to leave after three months if they feel we haven’t met their expectations – though few people take that option. Our success rate speaks for itself.

To bring all of this together, we’ve also just launched the second strand Makers & Mentors – work experience – offering opportunities to those coming up to school leavers age (15+). It starts with a mock recruitment process and then takes the trainees through a structured programme that canters through the different teams in our business. We’ve set the programme up this way in a bid to help even more talent find what they’re truly suited to and enjoy in the industry.

We really believe that making young people feel visible, appreciated and listened to is key to recruiting the best and brightest for the industry’s future.

If you’re interested in the full ‘In Conversation With…attracting top talent’ episode from Makers & Mentors, you can find it at: – or perhaps consider registering for Mount Anvil’s work experience programme on 21 October:

By Emma Foster, Development Director at Mount Anvil

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