‘Construction for All’ with Kier Group

Monday 11th December, 2017

During November we supported Kier with a Construction Career event for our local Schools; it was a valuable experience even for me already working in the Employment and Skills Sector. At the beginning of the day, Kier took us on the journey of a whole project, from conception with the client to completion, including all the career roles that are involved. it brought to life the reality that there is much more to Construction than muddy boots and hard hats!

We then heard from the Kier staff that had been drawn in to support; Engineer, Environmental Engineer; Quantity Surveyor, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Publicity and Corporate Responsibility Administrator. The handful of staff here showed the breadth of opportunity available within one Construction Company.

Joe Chapman, a woman working for Integral, Kier’s supply chain partner was guest speaker, taking the young people through her career journey and it really was an inspirational journey! Joe started her career with flunking what was the equivalent to GCSE’s – you could hear the gasps from the accompanying teaching staff! Not wanting to be in education any longer Joe took a job in a Warehouse with BSS, using a forklift to move pallets. Joe progressed with BSS, Sales Clerk, Sales Manager and then Branch Manager. After a time and wanting to do more, Joe decided she wanted to move into the engineering side of construction but did not have the qualifications. Jo sidestepped into a job with a MJN Colston, a major M&E Services company to establish a ductwork cleaning division – it was during this job that she found out about mechanical engineer roles but how could she get there? Joe had to do more training, as a full time worker attending night school was the best option to achieve the necessary qualifications. Having not done well previously in Mathematics Joe was nervous about the Maths and Calculus elements but found that because she could see the value of the Maths she was learning it clicked and was able to achieve the qualifications. After a few more steps in different roles, Joe has done extremely well and is now the National Projects Director at Integral! It shows that some career paths have many twists and turns, there is not always a direct route. Whilst it may take time to find out what you enjoy doing you should never stop learning and developing to reach career goals and these will be different for everyone.

It was time to put into action some of the key roles mentioned with a team challenge; each student team had a Project Manager, Site Manager, Quantity Surveyor and Site Engineer, all with their own duties and rules to follow. Their task was to replicate the construction modelled in the Architects Office – cue Team Under Construction – we were Architects for the day!

With a budget to purchase building blocks, free visits to the office to memorise the structure the PM was to instruct the building team (if they needed more it used their budget) within a set completion time. Every student engaged in the task; fantastic to see. You could tell this a technical age, using their initiative and mobile phone cameras to aid their memories meant a quick adaptation of the rules was required!

If we could do this event again I would like to see a larger representation of female students brought from the schools. Feedback from schools suggests that with the mention of Construction girls ‘switch off’ but without attending such events that bring construction to life they will not get a realistic idea or inspiration of how they could join the industry and perhaps play a part in bridging the gender disparities in the construction workforce.