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Kier launches careers advice crusade

Kier is sending staff back to school to encourage pupils to think about a career in the construction industry.

A new report published by the company today (1 September) warns the sector has a ‘fundamental image problem’ and many pupils and parents do not appreciate the job opportunities it can offer.

According to a survey carried out for the report, almost three quarters (74%) of parents believe careers advice in schools is too focused on academia.

And more than two thirds (68%) of parents believe that children do not receive enough careers advice at school.

But the report adds the construction industry needs to take on 400,000 new recruits a year to keep pace with the UK’s growing housing and infrastructure demand.

A survey of teachers, also carried out for the report, found 90% of teachers across the UK are unaware of the scale of the recruitment shortfall in the construction sector, with 41% not realising there is an issue at all.

It also found more than half (54%) of teachers and parents believe there is a lack of career progression in construction/the built environment, and associate the industry with being muddy, manual, male dominated and low paid thanks to outdated perceptions.

In order to help overcome the construction’s sector’s image problem, Kier has today pledged to send 1% of its workforce into schools to act as careers ambassadors and engage with at least 10,000 pupils in the next year.

The company has also called on the government to make sure every school gives children a minimum of three one hour careers advice sessions – the first session with a school advisor, follow up sessions with ambassadors from relevant industries.

It also recommends that the careers advice process begins as early as possible in a young person’s life to enable them to make informed choices about their subject/course selection.

‘With an ageing workforce, uncertainty around Brexit and an ambitious pipeline of construction, housing and wider infrastructure projects, which equates to £90 billion of UK GDP delivery and creates a demand for circa 400,000 new recruits per annum, it is imperative that we attract new talent into our industry,’ said Kier’s chief executive, Haydn Mursell.

‘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,’ added Mursell.

‘If every company in the FTSE 250 and FTSE 100 followed the 1% pledge as part of their commitment to employment and skills, we could create a powerful network of real world advisors, to inform and inspire the next generation,’ he added.

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