Construction is more than just bricks and mortar: Inspiring the next generation to plug the skills gap

Yate Academy

The Association of Women in Property (WiP) South-West branch has started 2018 with a new challenge – their own adopted school! Under the acclaimed Constructing Excellence ‘Adopt A School’ programme, they have been partnered with Yate Academy, to encourage student engagement with the construction industry.

WiP have been a leading advocate of schools engagement for the last decade, with their team participating in school careers events throughout the region, and historically running the WiP Schools Competition where students designed an Eco-home on a plot of land at the Paintworks in Bristol – thereby encouraging not only interaction with the construction industry but also the concept of sustainability and green technologies.

Yate Academy is based at Sundridge Park in Yate, and is the first 3-19 all-through Academy in South Gloucestershire. The school holds at its heart that every child will have a better chance of success at Yate than they would have if they went to any other school in the country.

Phillipa Lewis, Deputy Principal commented: “At Yate Academy we know that being successful looks very different for all of our students, but we ensure that everyone of our students has every chance of being successful. One of the ways we achieve this is by getting our students to understand and experience the opportunities that are available to them in the both locally, nationally and internationally.

“By working with Women In Property we can ensure that we are forging links with industry and education in the minds of our students and we can share a plethora of opportunities that our students may well not have thought of before. We are excited to start working with WiP and know there will be many rewards for all of the community.”

With over 200 members, WiP South-West are hoping to be able to bring a wide variety of disciplines and levels of experience to the table to connect with the students at Yate Academy. They will discuss career opportunities, some of which the students might not realise are construction industry roles and there will certainly be stories of challenges which have been faced – and overcome – to inspire the students to consider a career in construction.

Carly Willis, Quantity Surveyor for Claremont and Chairman of WiP South-West said: “Everyone in the industry talks about how the image of construction is improving and how concerned they are about skills shortages, especially with Brexit looming.  We decided to take action and be proactive in spreading the message that this industry is about as exciting and varied as it gets. We are all really looking forward to being able to talk to the students about our daily lives and what attracted us to our individual careers. If anyone within the industry would like to get involved with this programme, please do let us know.”

The skills gap in construction is widening every year, so it is crucial that businesses and organisations connect with the next generation at an early age in order to ensure talented young people are encouraged into the industry.

This is especially critical for young women, who currently make up only 7% of the construction workforce – and with studies showing a balanced workforce is a more profitable one, attracting more women into construction makes good business sense. A recent survey by Redrow illustrated that over half of young people believe a career in construction mostly involves manual labour, yet opportunities include design, technical and engineering work as well as site-based hands-on or management skills.

The industry must ensure that this vast spectrum of opportunities is communicated to the next generation so that they can consider it, no matter what their skillset or interest. Attracting talented individuals will be key to ensuring the construction industry in the UK remains at the forefront of Europe.

The South-West is a booming location for construction at the moment, having been voted the best place to live in Britain by The Sunday Times, not to mention having the largest construction site in Europe (Hinkley Point), as well as significant investor interest in tech, offices & universities in Bristol. For those who decide to follow the path, there will surely be an exciting range of opportunities at their fingertips over the next few decades.