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It’s never too early to consider a career in construction

Primary school children are the key to bridging the construction skills gap, according to Anderson’s training manager, Steve Hammond.

Steve, who oversees all new recruits at Anderson and sits on numerous national advisory boards for training provision, said the sector is currently concentrating solely on recruiting teenagers into apprenticeship roles but this is, according to Steve, too little too late.

“The UK construction industry is facing a well-reported skills shortage due to tradespeople retiring or leaving the sector without being replaced,” says Steve. “It’s a serious problem, especially as the pressure is on to meet building requirements and end a national housing crisis.

Steve Hammond, Anderson Training Manager
Steve Hammond, Anderson Training Manager

“In recent years, the industry has focused on sourcing new recruits from sixth form colleges and has tried very hard to educate them on the breadth of opportunities and the range of roles within the sector. But what we’re increasingly finding is that many young people – and their parents and teachers – still see construction as a second-rate career choice. Of course, we can tell them otherwise and educate them on the range of options out there, but it’s become obvious to me that it’s too little, too late.”

Prior to the pandemic, Anderson had started taking primary school groups on site visits and visiting schools with construction-based activities designed for the different key stages.

Five to seven-year-olds were given drainage and construction activities using sand and building materials, while eight to 10-year-olds were asked to design a housing estate.

On top of this, Anderson devised a VR headset experience so they could take their building site into the classroom and let children explore without health and safety risks.

“We need to be encouraging young children to aspire to jobs that are crying out to be filled. The breadth of roles in our sector is extraordinary. We need to recruit bricklayers, groundworkers and plumbers as well as site managers, quantity surveyors and architects.

“What’s more, we need to encourage more women to consider this as a viable career path and this also involves changing mindset, killing stereotypes and planning for the future.”

Having worked for Anderson for the past eight years, Steve has mentored 50 ground level 2 apprentices and 10 level 3 management apprentices.

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