Celia Williams, Engagement Manager at Redrow

There is a skills shortage in the housebuilding industry, and if you accompany that with an ageing workforce, and the housing market being one of the fastest growing UK sectors, attracting new talent into construction is business critical.

To be able to successfully attract the next generation to the industry however there needs to be a collaborative approach from housebuilders, government and importantly schools and careers advisers.

Lack of depth to careers advice schools are providing young people on apprenticeships

Redrow’s 2019 apprenticeship report laid bare the lack of depth to the advice that schools are providing young people on apprenticeships, with only 44% of young adults claiming that they received high-quality information and proper guidance on a wide range of careers from their respective schools. To boot, only 8% of apprentices at Redrow were encouraged to enrol on an apprenticeship through school careers advice. One of the key recommendations we therefore included within our report was an improvement in the information provided by schools to ensure young people better understand the breadth of apprenticeship opportunities and progression routes available at all levels that are most appropriate to them.

In December 2017, the Department for Education released its new career guidance strategy to also ensure that, moving forward, young people received tailored advice about the training routes and work experience needed to start a successful career. To do so, it placed the eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks at the heart of its strategy. Gatsby, a foundation committed to strengthening the country’s science and engineering skills, believes that every young person needs high quality career guidance to make an informed decision about their future, and we agree.

Inspiring the next generation to build must be a key priority

Inspiring the next generation to build is a key priority for us and we’re committed to broadening the career horizons of young people and giving them insight into the wide range of jobs and rewarding careers the modern construction industry has to offer.

We are doing this by building strategic partnerships with schools and working hard to dismantle the misconstrued and out-dated perception that many teachers, parents and young people have of the industry. For example, our report, which surveyed more than 1,000 parents, found that 45% believe that a career in construction mostly involves manual labour. In fact, our apprenticeship and graduate programmes offer roles within departments such as commercial, planning and administration, which do not involve any manual labour.

To help change these perceptions, we have been busy training more than 130 Redrow employees from across our divisions to become ambassadors. The aim is for these ambassadors to form partnerships with primary and secondary schools within their respective regions and educate both the teachers and the students on the opportunities available. Our ambassadors are passionate about inspiring the next generation to build and are committed to helping bridge the skills gap within construction.

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These ambassadors will often be young people’s first introduction to the construction industry and so to ensure each of our ambassadors are well-placed to act as informed role models we have produced a range of educational resources for both primary and secondary school students, that adhere to the eight Gatsby Career Benchmarks.

Creating long-term relationships that are meaningful and effective

The primary school resources include fun and engaging activities that will raise younger children’s awareness of the industry and the types of roles available. This includes information on our Archi-Tots competition, which sees four to nine-year-olds from across England and Wales applying for the role of Redrow’s ‘Archi-Tot’ by submitting a ‘house of the future’ design.

The secondary school resources focus more on employability skills, the range of roles available within construction and career pathways, and includes an activity whereby the students need to work as a group to design a Redrow heritage home, which will test their communication, listening, maths, creative thinking and teamwork skills.

These collaborations won’t be a one-off. We want to create long-term relationships with schools that are meaningful and effective, which allow these institutions to gain informed employer intelligence, information on local jobs and better understand how discussions around careers can feed into their curriculum.

We hope by doing this we raise awareness of the wide range of careers available in homebuilding and the wider construction industry, whilst also increasing young people’s understanding of how skills learned in school can be relevant to the world of work.

Investing in the next generation of construction industry talent

Apprentices are a vital component for ensuring the success of our economy, which is why we are so committed to investing in the next generation of construction industry talent. Not only are we launching our ambassador programme, but this year we will also be extending our Housebuilding Degree programme to school-leavers from across the country.

The course, which was launched in 2017 in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Coleg Cambria, aims to teach participants the skills to become a construction manager in housebuilding over a three-year period. The programme is the first dedicated degree of its kind, and until now, our degree has been offered to current employees with a level three qualification, or a minimum of five years in the industry, who would embark on the programme to attain a BSc (Hons) Construction Management in Housebuilding. But now we are directly targeting school leavers with three A-Level pass grades or a BTEC Level 3.

We’re aware that graduates and apprentices of today could go on to become the business leaders of the future but for that to happen we need greater collaboration between our industry, schools and government. We hope, by establishing these school partnerships and developing our ambassador programme, young people and teachers across England and Wales will be fully aware of the options available in construction and any negative perceptions around apprenticeships will firmly be put to bed.  

Celia Williams, Engagement Manager at Redrow

To find out more about the apprenticeship schemes available at Redrow, visit our careers page: https://www.redrowcareers.co.uk/apprenticeships-graduates-work-experience/apprentices/

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