26th May Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Earlier this month, North-East born architect and TV presenter George Clarke launched a new scheme to attract more people into the building industry.

The Ministry of Building Innovation (MOBI) is an organisation designed to inspire new generations and encourage innovation in the design and construction of housing. It is aimed at kickstarting a fundamental change to the home building industry, attracting new generations into the profession.

Statistics show that we may need to recruit as many as 400,000 new employees every year if we are to meet governments ambitious target of building 140,000 new homes by the end of this year. The industry has an ever-growing skills shortage, making attracting new talent into the sector not just desirable, but absolutely critical if we are to close the current talent gap, hit the government’s target and avert a major skills crisis in the future.

I welcome the new initiative with open arms and am 100 per cent behind supporting new recruits, particularly students and young people into the industry. The future of our industry lies with the youth of today, so why wouldn’t we encourage them into the industry by showing them just how amazing construction can be?

George Clarke visited Teesside earlier this week to discuss this new building initiative that has launched in partnership with Teesside University. Employers got to hear about the suite of multi-disciplinary courses at all levels to attract new and innovative ideas and people into the building industry. The university has also developed a suite of courses in Advanced Home Construction and Advanced Home Futures. The courses offer a new look at the building industry and a broad-based practical approach which aims to attract learners from different disciplines, not just traditional architecture and enable students to explore a variety of specialisms, allowing them to challenge the status quo. There’s so much more to the industry than hard hats and muddy boots, and it’s down to us to make sure everybody knows that.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has also been working towards encouraging more people, specifically young people, into the industry. They have put together a ‘Think Construction’ toolkit for companies to take into schools to show young people exactly what the industry has to offer. It includes a film, presentations, case studies and games to appeal to children of all ages. This time last year I was asking the government to do more with regards to promotion of the industry and to inform parents/school career advisors and pupils that there are many professions within the construction industry, so for me, this toolkit is exactly what is needed.

I think we’ve all finally realised the importance the young of today play in the future of our industry and we know that the best way to make a difference is to work collectively and towards the same goal.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.