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Inspiring the next generation to get involved in construction

Pictured are several students from Mildenhall College Academy. They are all dressed in black blazers and trousers, a striped red and black tie and white shirts
Students at Mildenhall College Academy [Crown Copyright/MildenhallCollegeAcademy2019]
This week is National Careers Week and to celebrate I’d like to tell you about how the joint venture between Kier and VolkerFitzpatrick (KVF35) has been working with students at Mildenhall College Academy to help them learn about the different career opportunities available in the construction industry and other related professions.

According to an industry report, the construction industry needs 400,000 recruits every year. People are the lifeblood of our industry, not bricks and mortar. We need skilled people so that we can continue to build and maintain the homes, training facilities, schools, offices and hospitals that we provide for military personnel, their families and the wider community.

A lot of work is currently happening to upgrade and improve facilities at RAF Lakenheath. There will be a continual requirement for skilled construction workers and roles related to the industry to ensure that the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and its contractors are able to deliver the vital infrastructure for the United States Visiting Forces Infrastructure Programme.

When KVF was appointed by DIO as the contractor for the US F35 project at RAF Lakenheath DIO were keen that an element of their work was focused on making connections with the local community and building relationships so that we could understand residents’ concerns.

Pictured is a yellow crane next to a aircraft hangar that has been demolished. There is rock rubble next to the crane and building
Buildings are being demolished and materials reused to create new facilities for the US F35s [Crown Copyright/MOD2019]
At Kier, we’ve made a pledge that 1% of our staff, around 200 colleagues, will work as career ambassadors with schools and colleges and that we will engage with 10,000 pupils over the next year. VolkerFitzpatrick has also established a number of ongoing initiatives to support young people entering the construction industry. To help give students an insight into the range of opportunities available and breakdown stereotypes of construction workers, we created monthly career conferencing calls.

In each call, we have an employee in a particular career field talk to students about their role, career opportunities, skills and experience. So far, we’ve had an architect and design manager, project manager, occupational health nurse, marketing and communications manager, archaeologist and we will be hosting a chef and the Chief Flight Engineer from US Air Force! This is a great way for students to learn directly from someone doing the job, about the different fields they could get involved in and ask questions.

A lot of students want to follow a particular career path but don’t know what they need to do to get there. The career talks have allowed them to speak to real people carrying out a specific job role and learn about what steps they need to take to achieve their career goal.

Students are also sent a copy of the speaker’s CV, which has helped them adapt their own CVs and look at the skill-set needed for a particular role. They are also learning how valuable extracurricular activities can be in making a CV look more attractive. In addition, the sessions are helping students to realise how important it is to have an understanding of using internet technology for communication and they are becoming a lot more confident in engaging with people. They have added these skill sets to their CVs.

We’ve already had some positive feedback from the careers lead at Mildenhall College Academy. She has called the recent speakers ‘engaging’, ‘inspirational’, ‘passionate’ and ‘knowledgeable’. She was also grateful that so many of the speakers emphasise the importance of a good CV.

DIO has worked closely with KVF to carry out this work with the local community and we will continue to work with our suppliers to develop the future workforce for the construction industry.

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