For June’s Contributor Recommends, we spoke to Sue Hardy, Community & Skills Team Leader at Mace. Sue has worked across various diverse organisations to develop strategy, measure impact and social value and to set up and deliver programmes focused on social mobility, employability and diversity.
“At Mace Group, we believe that everyone deserves wellbeing and opportunity. At the same time, like many industries, the construction industry faces a huge challenge around finding qualified talent to fill vacant roles, such as people to deliver ambitious infrastructure and construction projects.
In my role at Mace Group, it is my job to leverage our responsible business initiatives to address this challenge and provide opportunities for young people from underrepresented backgrounds to join our industry. But after over 15 years of working in responsible business, I have come to learn that even with vast amounts of philanthropic investments, partnerships and employee volunteering aimed at empowering young people, there is a large role for parents and guardians to play in influencing young people in their career choices.
A recently published research report from the Construction Youth Trust and Stace supports my experience. It explores the ‘next generation’ of people entering the industry and the impact that will have on our future skills and diversity profile.
The report contains evidence showing that young people are more likely to listen to a parent or guardian rather than an adviser at school – and more than 27% of parents and guardians would discourage their children from starting a career in the construction or built environment industries.
Even more worryingly, those figures are significantly worse for the BAME community. The report makes it clear that the construction industry is not doing enough to reach out to minority communities or to shed its well-established image of muddy boots, macho culture and hard labour.
This data encourages the construction industry to think differently about how we attract young talent and ensure that our industry becomes more diverse. It calls for a rethink about who and how we engage when we go out to encourage young people into the sector.
The research suggests that we will need to develop communications with young people’s key influencers as part of our overall engagement strategy as well as the young people themselves. As a result of this report, I will be looking to work with Mace Group’s partner organisations to widen our communications.
Whilst on the face of it the report is specific to the construction and the built environment industries, I think it holds larger lessons for responsible business professionals in sectors across the UK; particularly around engaging with young people and creating diverse pipelines of talent. I hope you will find the research useful and transferable to whatever industry you are working in.”