BuildForce, which has helped hundreds of service personnel leaving the armed forces to forge a career in construction, is celebrating reaching its tenth year in operation.
BuildForce was formed in 2011 as a pilot programme involving six construction organisations with funding from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
During the covid-19 pandemic, the organisation has strengthened its mental health offering, as well as increasing its online support and social media support, with fortnightly career chats with its alliance partners.
The ex-military community is now a recognised construction talent pool
Programme director Caroline Logan said: “During this current tumultuous period, all aspects of our personal and work lives changed. Our main focus has been our mental health offering. At the start of lockdown, we converted our face-to-face programmes to be online, including our stress management course.”
Bernie Graham, BuildForce psychologist added: “We’ve seen a steady attendance rate throughout lockdown with similar themes arising on each course. Many of our service leavers and veterans are anxious about their future, worried for their family and are struggling to cope with isolation. The course focuses on identifying triggers which will affect their mental health and we provide coping mechanisms and signposting to further support. I am also available for confidential one-to-one sessions.”
Meanwhile, BuildForce has started its 10th anniversary year with confirmation of its appointment as HS2’s military job brokerage partner. The scheme will allow BuildForce to give sight of opportunities on the project to the armed forces community, in what BuildForce claimed was a first for a large UK infrastructure project.
Commenting on the 10th anniversary of the organisation, chief executive Angela Forbes said: “We have seen engagement from industry increase year on year. Many construction companies are diversifying into other markets including residential, infrastructure and public-sector works, in order to survive.
“Having access to extensive construction skills becomes more critical. The labour market has become convoluted: developing home-grown skills in industry will take time, and the numbers are not fully addressing the ageing population and the mass exodus of those retiring in the next 10 years.
“Brexit further complicates the skills problem by limiting access to hundreds of thousands of skilled European migrants. We are seeing the ex-military community increasingly become a solution, they are now a recognised talent pool and feature in many company’s talent acquisition strategies.
“We set out to formally connect the ex-military community and the construction industry. With BuildForce forming pathways for service leavers and veterans into industry, the transition is easier and there is greater transparency on careers available. It is just the beginning and there is more to do, but we’ve got off to a great start.”