Kier to combat schools’ misperceptions about construction

Taking inspiration from the rallying cry of ‘modernise or die’, Kier has launched a new initiative to combat misconceptions about construction in UK schools, as part of a drive to attract new talent into the industry.

With the built environment needing to attract 400,000 new recruits per year, Kier has acknowledged that the industry must get involved to avert a £90bn GDP crisis.

As part of its new ‘Shaping your world’ initiative Kier has pledged to release 1% of its workforce to act as school career ambassadors for construction.

This 1% pledge has stemmed from the findings of Kier’s survey of 2,000 secondary schools and academies, which revealed that approximately two-thirds of teachers or career advisers maintain negative views about construction.

Explaining the drive towards this initiative, Hadyn Mursell, chief executive at Kier said: “With an ageing workforce, uncertainty around Brexit and an ambitious pipeline of construction, housing and wider infrastructure projects . . . it is imperative that we attract new talent into our industry. We have invested in comprehensive resource to train and develop new talent, we offer a vast array of roles, great scope and support for diversity and career progression, and we offer the chance to leave a lasting legacy and make a real contribution to local communities, as well as UK GDP.

"But we also have an image crisis, based on out-of-date perceptions and advice. We cannot leave this to schools, councils or the government alone to resolve. Business is best placed to explain itself, its employment offering and its skills and training needs.”

The Kier survey found that nine out of ten teachers do not know of the high shortfall in construction recruitment and 76% of those surveyed do not know that apprenticeships are a realistic route into the industry. Looking at UK practices more generally for career advice, Kier’s report finds that 65% of 11-13 year olds in the UK do not receive any career advice, with only 27% of 13-15 year olds receiving just one hour of career advice through their school. 

The report concludes that the industry cannot rely on local or central government to both resource as well as deliver the change in student career advice that would be necessary to attract more talent into the industry.

Thus Kier’s newly launched ‘Shaping your world’ campaign. Not only have Kier pledged 1% of its workforce, 200 colleagues, as Kier career ambassadors to engage with 10,000 pupils over the next 12 months, the contractor has also developed a variety of interactive resources referred to as virtual interactive built environment (VIBE) geared towards both students as well as teachers. 

The VIBE resources include the ability to create individual avatars, exploration of local projects, discovering real jobs in the industry, as well as an interactive city simulation. These interactive resources are expected to increase as the programme continues over the next year to continually find new ways to assist schools in introducing students to careers within construction.

Kier has urged others from the industry to get involved in ensuring that schools, parents and students know about the benefits of a career in construction. 

Click here to find out more about Kier's 'Shaping your world' campaign.