So, as I am sat in Starbucks with an iced drink and 30 degree sun on my back, not bad for little old England, I am reflecting on the my recent back to college experience.
Having graduated from Long Road Sixth form college just over 10 years ago I had the pleasure in being invited to return to speak to students about my career and what the construction industry can offer students, like it did myself 10 years ago. Did I succeed in inspiring… I hope so.
Did I ever see myself going into construction all those years ago, leaving college and having university offers ready to go, one summer really decided it all.
I had spent the three years at sixth form studying, as well as leading the southeast Conservative association, being the youngest leader and Parish Councillor in the country.
My last year of college I finally decided to stand for election as a District Councillor, for me the first step on the political ladder of what I had hoped would be a long and successful political career. To keep things short and simple, I lost the local election by 90 votes and it caused me to re-evaluate my situation and, having looked long and hard, if I had any political ambition in the future, then a career would be the best and most authentic approach to take to be taken seriously and to have some more life experience.
Why construction I hear you ask. Well truthfully, I fell into it via the governments apprenticeship programme. As a Business Administrator onsite, I fell in love with the industry even more than I had in Spain as an apprentice electrician at Sevillana. I had a Construction Director and Contracts Manager that nurtured me and helped me grow, while letting me onsite to snag works and manage minor aspects of the build. The rest as they say is history… well as I told the students starting as a business administrator, then moving to Site Management, Contracts management, Pre-Construction Management, and to a Group role left me well-grounded and covered every aspect of the business. It taught me what key drivers the business needed, made me an effective and influential member of group, and taught me that nobody knows everything.
Having spoken to the course leaders and deputy head of the college they are wanting to teach and improve students understanding of sustainability and the impact it has over ever industry. After my presentation I was asked some great questions around nutrient neutrality, the impact of Biodiversity Net Gain, and what the new building regulations actually mean.
I also had the pleasure of setting the students the task of designing a three room student pod from Timber Frame, which in a months time, I will be returning to the College to look, judge, and give feedback on their project, which they are paying particular design focus, on fire, insulation, and ventilation.
The students we given the hierarchy structure of some of the top ten housebuilders, and what a day to day looks like with someone working in the industry. The conveyance from me is that the people in these organisations, including here at V10 Homes, is that we are passionate about development; it’s like an itch you cannot scratch, the hamster wheel of development is always turning, once one is complete the next one isn’t far behind!
How does the industry benefit?
When I started my presentation to the to the students, I spoke about the skills gap in the construction industry and that there is more to the industry than trades, and site teams, there is a whole team of people from architects to quantity surveyors, that all play a vital role in delivering much needed homes in the UK. Less and less students are turning to professions within the industry, as they see no benefits for them, and the industry is seen as a dirty industry, cold and wet, long hours. While the hours can be long, and the onsite staff (including trades) do get wet and cold, there is also a misnomer that these a low paying career options, that are not viable to live on, which is simply untrue, and that the way the workforce has shifted, especially since Covid, has made the workforce more modern with dress codes and hour flexibility. The use of technology is coming to the forefront, Teams, BIM, and many other project management tools make for an exciting time to be in the industry.
My passion and love of development will always be there, go around new towns and developments that I help start, manage, or finish is a source of great pride and I hope that came through to inspire the future of our industry!
- Photo shows Keiran Wakley, V10’s Head of Pre-Construction & Sustainability, inspiring future constructors.