The success of last weekend’s Open Doors event has prompted calls to expand it in 2013 to also include sites run by SMEs and contractors outside the UK Contractors Group.
The first-of-its-type event, organised by the UKCG in conjunction with the CIOB, CITB-ConstructionSkills and the Considerate Constructors Scheme, saw over 4,500 members of the public visit 91 live construction sites across the UK to witness first-hand the scale and complexity of major projects.
The Open Doors project was set up to challenge stereotypes about construction, to encourage greater engagement with the public and local communities and to help attract talent into the industry.
In its inaugural year, all sites were run by UKCG member firms and included the legacy transformation of the Olympic 2012 Aquatics Centre, Birmingham City Library, and Transport for London’s expansion of Tottenham Court Road station next to Centrepoint.
But according to a spokesman for CITB-ConstructionSkills, early feedback on the event has included requests from smaller non-UKCG contractors to get involved in Open Doors 2013.
Mike Smith, chairman of the CIOB’s Chartered Building Company Scheme, endorsed the idea. “The Open Doors project is a real asset to the industry in terms of generating public awareness and, being sponsored by the CIOB, it should be widened to include Chartered Building Companies (CBCs) and other contractors at the smaller end of the spectrum to promote the important work they do for construction,” said Smith.
CITB-ConstructionSkills is currently carrying out impact analysis to gauge how effective the event was at boosting the industry’s public profile. It will measure social media and regional press coverage, and the impact of an “advertorial” piece in The Sun newspaper.
Stephen Ratcliffe, director of UKCG, told CM: “The early feedback we have received is that people were pleased with the reception they received in sites. Our members have occasionally opened up their sites to the public, but this was the first concerted push on a single weekend and we were encouraged by what we saw.”
“Through this diversity of projects, from iconic buildings to thrilling engineering projects, we wanted to display the wide spectrum of employment opportunities available in construction, and show that jobs in construction can cater to people at all levels of the academic spectrum, it’s not just about being a carpenter or a bricklayer.”