Industry employers including Carillion, Lend Lease and Morgan Sindall have signed up to a new initiative to fill predicted construction skills gaps with ex-Armed Forces personnel.
The initiative, developed by CITB-ConstructionSkills in partnership with the Ministry of Defence’s Career Transition Partnership, was launched at the headquarters of the Royal Engineers in Chatham, Kent, on Tuesday.
It aims to inform ex-Service personnel of career opportunities in the sector, whilst encouraging construction and built environment employers to recruit from this pipeline (see case study).
Other firms and public sector projects giving their backing to the project include High Speed 2, EDF Energy New Nuclear Build, dry-lining specialist Astins, demolition contractor Keltbray and logistics provider Wilson James.
CITB-ConstructionSkills’ publishes the annual Construction Skills Network report, which earlier this year identified the need for as many as 46, 240 new construction workers by 2016 if demand picks up.
The initiative aims to inform ex-Service personnel of opportunities in construction
The CSN figures suggested that the greatest demand will be for construction managers, up 30,000 by 2016 on 2010 figures.
At the same time, around 18,500 service leavers are coming in to the civilian job market every year, many with transferable skills in project management or logistics.
The initiative includes the Royal Engineers and the Royal Logistic Corps, home to trades including bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, plumbing, electrical installation and logistics. It is also being backed by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
Andy Walder, director of the National Construction College (NCC) – CITB-ConstructionSkills’ training arm – said: “The NCC trains a number of ex-Service men and women every year, and we hope this figure will continue to rise as a result of this new partnership. We hope to continue to lead the way in accessing these valuable skills – to help the construction sector succeed and grow.”
MOD’s Career Transition Partnership managing director David Duffy said: “We are keen to work with employers to recruit ex-Service personnel into their organisation and promote their job opportunities directly to the pool of talent leaving the military.”
As part of this initiative, the Construction Youth Trust has been working with the MOD’s Recovery Career Services, construction employers and ConstructionSkills to offer wounded or sick service personnel work placements in the sector, potentially leading to jobs if they leave.
The CYT initiative will initially focus on Manchester and the north-west, with the intention of expanding the model in the future.
The project will draw on ex-Service personnel already working in construction who will act as mentors to potential recruits, including Seamas Kerr of Carillion.
Andy Parker: RAF to construction
Case study: Andy Parker, 47, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire
Andy served as a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force (RAF) for 27 years before retiring in 2010. His Service career saw him undertake a number of tours across the world – two of which saw him deployed to Gibraltar and Kandahar, Afghanistan.
As part of the RAF Infrastructure Branch, Andy was responsible, as a programme and project manager, for overseeing a myriad of construction projects including new aircraft hangars, the resurfacing of major RAF runways, and the construction of accommodation at bases across the UK. He also undertook an MSc in Facilities Management at Leeds Metropolitan University and studied for qualifications through the Association of Project Management.
On retiring from the RAF, Andy set about developing his CV, helped by the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), with a view to securing his first civilian role. In 2010, he joined Morgan Sindall as its director of defence. In his current role, Andy has overall responsibility for Morgan Sindall’s defence construction, ensuring that it is delivered on time and to the highest quality whilst providing excellent customer service. Andy particularly likes working in large teams and overcoming the challenges which accompany every new project.
Many of the skills he developed whilst in the RAF have been crucial for his ability to carry out his current role. He said, “I have brought a number of skills from my military career, including strong leadership and management, integrity and discipline. I have learnt how to adapt all of these skills to best effect in the private sector.” He continues: “Although moving into the private sector created a huge challenge, it was reassuring to know that along with my civilian qualifications, my service experience and training was of value to a leading UK construction and infrastructure business.”