Attracting Young, Diverse Talent To Construction
CITB (2019) released a report earlier in the year highlighting that there is an increasing requirement to attract young talent to the industry to close skills gaps. We spoke to two of our Whitehat Apprentices, Aiste and Rochelle, to understand what attracted them to the construction industry, the benefits of an apprenticeship and what companies can do to attract young, diverse talent.
What is your current role at HDR | Concentre Consulting, and what did you do before?
Aiste: I have just joined HDR | Concentre Consulting as a Data Analytics Apprentice. Before joining HDR | Concentre Consulting I worked within the mobile app marketing industry, where I gained knowledge in Digital Marketing. I have also worked in the hospitality industry. Both being very different to what I do now, but all my previously gained skills are transferable to my new role.
Rochelle: My current role at HDR | Concentre Consulting is a Project Information Manager. I am nearing the end of my business admin level 3 apprenticeship. I have been working at HDR | Concentre Consulting for 7 months and have been thoroughly enjoying myself in my new role in a new industry. My previous roles have been in the education system as Teaching assistant or nursery assistant.
What attracted you to HDR | Concentre Consulting and the Construction industry?
Aiste: My dad has been working in the construction industry for most of his life and has been a big influence on me to join the industry too. However, I wasn’t keen on joining the construction industry because I was stuck on the idea of it being a male-dominant, hands-on or practical environment. I wasn’t aware of other job roles in the industry. I soon found out this is not the case and I chose to work at HDR | Concentre Consulting as I think what they are doing for the built environment is incredible. It is important for the construction industry to realise that data collection and management of it is really important, in order to deliver projects efficiently and successfully. I believe that joining HDR | Concentre Consulting as a Data Analyst Apprentice will give me the most opportunity to learn and grow, especially since its a fairly new concept in the construction industry.
Rochelle: HDR | Concentre Consulting attracted me to this industry. I always thought I’d stay in the education system and become a teacher, but an opportunity came up to be an apprentice at HDR | Concentre Consulting. During the interview process I learnt about what HDR | Concentre Consulting does and their values made it really appealing to change career paths. I think what we are doing here at HDR | Concentre Consulting is game changing and creating waves in the construction industry. I am just really excited to be a part of the change and watch HDR | Concentre Consulting grow. I would never have thought of working in this industry before my experience with HDR | Concentre Consulting and had no idea of the information management aspect of construction. I just thought construction jobs are very hands-on or practical but I can see now that there is a lot of opportunity to grow in this industry in various roles.
“I would never have thought of working in the construction industry before my experience with HDR | Concentre Consulting… but I can see now that there is a lot of opportunity to grow in this industry in various roles”
Can you give some examples of the opportunities you’ve had since you’ve been at HDR | Concentre Consulting?
Aiste: Even though I have been working at HDR | Concentre Consulting for only a few weeks, I have had the opportunity to visit a Data Centre, which was a new experience for me, and I really enjoyed it. There are also a lot of possible opportunities ahead for me, especially since my role will include working with different members of the team, across different clients. I feel like the work that I am doing right now is very valuable to the rest of the team and our clients, and I look forward to those opportunities, which will arise as I get more knowledge and experience throughout my apprenticeship. Aside from work there are also lots of social opportunities, such as team lunches and fun monthly events.
Rochelle: For the time that I’ve been here, I have never felt like ‘the apprentice’ doing irrelevant tasks to pass time, I have real responsibilities. I look after several projects on one of our client’s common data environments, I have chaired many conference calls with project managers across Europe. (with a little bit of moral support). If you have an idea, and the management team like it, they will let you implement and make that change. There are opportunities for site visits and to travel as the projects move beyond the EMEA region and I am intrigued to see what will happen next. More on the office life… the office dogs make Monday morning seem a lot more appealing and exploring the local area for cool places to have group lunches is great.
What advice would you give to someone who hadn’t considered a career in construction before?
Aiste: As obvious as this may sound, my advice for someone who hasn’t considered a career in construction before, would be to step away from any stereotypical beliefs they may have on the industry and just go for it. There are many opportunities out there, that are not practical and more office-based. As for being a woman going into the construction industry, we shouldn’t be put off by it being male-dominant, as there is more and more push for gender equality.
“My advice for someone who hasn’t considered a career in construction before, would be to step away from any stereotypical beliefs they may have on the industry and just go for it”
Rochelle: I would say that the industry isn’t just work sites, PPE and ‘jack the lad culture’, there’s a completely different side to the industry. The aim is to move away from those stereotypes and have more of a forward-thinking approach. Hiring talent now for the future means in 5-10 years time the stereotypes we have about the construction industry could totally disappear. If you want to be apart changing mindsets and digitalising the construction industry, I would say just do it.
“The industry isn’t just work sites, PPE and ‘jack the lad culture’, there’s a completely different side to the industry; our aim is to move away from these stereotypes and have more of a forward-thinking approach”
How do you think the construction industry can attract new talent?
Aiste: I came across Concentre Consulting and the construction industry through the apprenticeship provider, Whitehat. I am able to gain a Data Analytics Level 4 qualification whilst gaining professional experience. I believe more companies within construction should consider taking on apprentices as it can provide them with driven young talent, ready to make a mark on a industry they may have overlooked before.
“I believe more companies within construction should consider taking on apprentices as it can provide them with driven, young talent, ready to make a mark on a industry they may have overlooked before”
Rochelle: I feel that apprenticeships are the way to attract new talent to the construction industry. Apprenticeships are the way forward… full stop. It allows young people to learn on the job and give them skills like problem solving which you won’t really get if you’re in a lecture hall. More companies should see the value in hiring an apprentice. It’s a way to shape and inspire the younger workforce and can help young people visualise where they want to be.
Stereotypically there are many apprenticeships that people can do in the construction industry, mainly the ‘hands on/practical’ type. The digital and back of house aspect of the industry needs to follow in the way the labour jobs attract people, which is through apprenticeships. This is the part of the construction industry is lacking in fresh talent and that’s due to the fact people are not aware of this area and opportunities that lie there. I wouldn’t have even known this side of the industry even existed if it wasn’t for Whitehat and I am so happy I did and made the change. I feel like the possibilities and opportunities are endless for me now.
“More companies should see the value in hiring an apprentice. It’s a way to shape and inspire the younger workforce and can help young people visualise where they want to be”
CITB. (2019). Construction Skills Network forecasts 2019-2023 – UK . Available: https://www.citb.co.uk/about-citb/construction-industry-research-reports/search-our-construction-industry-research-reports/forecasts/csn-forecasts-2019-2023-uk/. Last accessed 10th September 2019.