Future-proofing the industry
10 December 2020
With talk of a huge skills gap in construction and a drop in young people entering the trade, Anderson’s apprenticeship scheme is bucking the trend.
With 24 years of military experience and eight years as Anderson’s Training Manager, Steve Hammond explains how…
There’s a lot of talk about a crisis in construction, especially around skills. This is certainly a concern, but for me one of the major problems we face is around the industry’s aging workforce, which is not being replenished fast enough. Sadly, a lot of construction businesses can be short-sighted and only look to the end of the week for their staffing needs, as opposed to 10 to 15 years down the line.
We, at Anderson, have always been aware of this issue and, for the past 17 years, have been training up young people through our numerous nationally recognised apprenticeship schemes. We currently run a Level 2 apprenticeship in Groundworks and Level 3 courses for engineers and junior site managers.
Historically, the industry would recruit people through word-of-mouth and friends-and-family. However, to meet the demand for quality staff and to secure future numbers, we found we needed to do more.
Working with schools and colleges
At Anderson, we started to recruit through outreach activities in schools and colleges, but this came with its own issues. Parents and carers would often say, ‘You’re not going into construction’. Or ‘You should think about becoming an engineer or a doctor’.
We soon learned that we had to start promoting the industry as a safe and structured place in which to work, with genuine opportunities for long term and varied careers. We started with the teachers and tutors and, through presenting at parents’ evenings and the like, we began to convince parents and carers that construction can be a viable career. These talks definitely helped counter the perceived opinions that going into construction was a dead-end, put-yourself-in-the-bottom-of-a-hole kind of job, where you’d get muddy, dirty and wet every day.
In reality, people never know what a career in construction may hold. One year you’re laying drainage and 20 years later you might be the Group Managing Director. There really is no glass ceiling for those with drive, talent and commitment.
Like pretty much everything in life, COVID-19 has had an impact on our recruitment drive. We had to postpone the 2020 apprentice intake and obviously we haven’t been able to get into the schools and colleges to spread the word. That said, we have been talking to one of our feeder colleges about co-creating some virtual reality films, to really bring the onsite experience to life.