by Elaine Lewis, Managing Director, Cadventure
How can we inspire young people to join our industry? This is a question many of us have been asking for several years now and whilst roles have changed and construction is becoming digitally led, there are still too few young people choosing construction as a career.
I believe we need to take further action to dispel the myths of what the roles actually entail if we are to attract more young people – and to then offer a multitude of ways to train and learn.
One way to do this is to come together as an industry and work collaboratively to showcase what opportunities are available within AEC.
Many of us who work in construction are incredibly proud of the things we have created and the impact our projects have on the environment and the communities they serve. It is this enthusiasm we need to share with young people. We need to dispel any preconceived notions that construction is simply unskilled labour. As we know, construction requires a high degree of skill and expertise, technological innovation, and advanced digital capabilities.
In the UK we have started to take large steps to educate and invest in our young people and increase their awareness of the wide range of technical and highly skilled roles available. Apprenticeships offer an alternative to classroom learning, providing real-world work experience and, crucially, the opportunity to earn while you learn.
Many employers who run apprenticeship schemes say that apprentices are more employable than those with other qualifications and play an important part in growing the skills and resource pool for our industry.
Modern apprenticeships are about meeting the demands of the future – as well as current building industry requirements. This is why at Cadventure we champion quality learning, and openly push and support apprenticeships that reach degree and postgraduate level qualifications.
We have an apprentice on our team, and the government pays 95% of the cost of their training. In return, the apprentice will spend 20% of their work time learning. They will come out with a recognised qualification, following rigorous assessment – as well as valuable hands-on business experience.
Educating the future of construction
But it is not just about those young people ready to start their career, we also need to begin the education around construction careers much sooner.
Class of Your Own (COYO) have developed the DEC programme which is a design, engineering and construction qualification that offers awareness and education for young people about our industry from 11 years of age. COYO has been passionate about getting young people into the industry for several years, and it has started to make great strides in exciting young people about the possibilities of what it is like to work in construction and helping to understand and build the necessary skills required. Their schools programme is now global.
Cadventure have recently partnered with COYO, helping to educate teachers in technology and software skills, as well as making the subject matter interesting and relevant for young people.
For me, one of the key benefits of apprenticeships is that employers can mould the skill-sets and insights of their apprentices. They are learning from the ground up, within the company’s own operating procedures and focused on specific business objectives. This means apprentices can rise through the ranks more effectively.
Today’s construction apprentices are the professionals of tomorrow, who can take up leadership roles with in-depth understanding of their own roles and projects, as well as the needs of the industry as a whole.
If I go back to my initial question, how can we inspire young people to join our industry? It is all down to the education and opening their eyes to the vast level of opportunities and diversity of roles, you can be anything you want to be in the AEC industry.