From education to employment

The changing face of construction – Youth Summit showcases the sector’s career opportunities

Over 50 students from two London colleges today heard about the many exciting career opportunities available to them in the rapidly growing construction industry.

The Built Environment Youth Summit brought together top employers and young people already working in the industry with the construction students from Havering College and London South East Colleges.

Organised by the Career Colleges Trust and taking place at Pearson’s headquarters on the Strand, the event aimed to showcase the many career pathways within the sector.

Hosting the event was MD of CNet Training Andrew Stevens. He talked about how rapidly construction is changing as a result of technological advances:

“Construction is a hugely exciting industry to be in right now. It’s important that we don’t think of construction as just high vis jackets and building sites. We are talking smart buildings, new methods of construction and rapidly advancing technology – offering a vast number of career opportunities”

The Youth Panel consisted of ten young people already working in the industry across various trades, including electrical engineering, bricklaying, plumbing and project management. They talked about why they have chosen a career in construction and the training they are undertaking. They also offered advice to the construction students:

Shane Sullivan (21) from Dagenham is a building and services apprentice at TB&A, studying at London Southbank University. He talked about the amazing support he gets from his employer and was shortlisted for this year’s National Apprenticeship Awards. He advised students at the event to “…never say no’ and get involved with every opportunity that comes your way. There is nothing you can’t do.”

Sophie Power (17) from Coventry is a Health and Safety and Building Services apprentice with Morgan Sindall. She achieved 9 GCSEs A*-C and her school was keen for her to stay on for sixth form. Instead she decided to take the apprenticeship route. She explained that …going to college one day a week and working the rest is the best of both worlds. I had never considered a career in construction previously as I wasn’t aware of the many opportunities on offer.” 

Following the Youth Panel were two keynote speeches from employers. Dan Leech,  MD of CADCOE focused on the training programmes his company has introduced to harness the best talent and David Ross, design director at Keppie Design, discussed the UK education system and the changes he, as an employer, would like to see – including more practical and problem-based learning.

An Industry Panel Q&A then gave students the opportunity to address their questions to the employers.

Pat O’Gorman, Construction Manager at Multiplex, said:

“Today’s event has highlighted to me that real talent lies in colleges, where students are motivated and keen to work in a hands on way. With the right attitude you can go anywhere in construction, there really is no end to the possibilities.

“I will be going back to my HR team to discuss ways we can work more closely with colleges to access and extract our potential site managers.”

Employers were asked to make a pledge to support students across the construction Career Colleges – ranging from work experience offers, work shadowing opportunities and mentoring.

London South East Colleges electrical installation student, Patrick Bolger (17) from Bexley said:

“This event has been really helpful. Hearing from other young people in the industry has given me a better idea of how to get ahead. I prefer being hands on, rather than sitting behind a desk, so think an apprenticeship is definitely for me. I am really interested in technology and want to move my career into this side of things.”

 Roger Dawe, Chair of the Career Colleges Trust opened and closed the event, commenting:

“The purpose of the Career Colleges Trust is to support a national network of employers and Colleges to ensure that young people are equipped to succeed in highly aspirational careers.

“And that is exactly what this Conference is all about for the national built environment sector. Here we have leading employers, Colleges and young people showcasing fantastic career opportunities in the sector. We hope it will inspire all the young people here and also those with who will watch this on line around the country.”

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