28th July Journal Column

By Eve Wilson, Cost Manager, Turner & Townsend and G4C North East Co-Chair

As an industry, we’ve been dealing with a skills shortage for quite some time, focussing on upskilling and training apprentices to fill the void, but we might need to go beyond training and commit a little time and effort into just helping young people prepare for the world of work.  If we connect young people, graduates and employers, in the longer term the commitment will pay off and should help to fill the skills gap.

Career Ready is a UK wide charity that runs structured, employer led careers programmes for students between 16 – 19 years old. They aim to increase the employability of students through a series of engagements with businesses and industry professionals.

The ‘Be a mentor, make a difference’ campaign aims to show the impact that employees can have on young people. Mentors have a wide range of backgrounds from recent graduates to managing directors, in both the public and private sector. The programme runs for 12-months. Every student is matched to a mentor, who use their experience and knowledge to help a young person develop resilience and confidence for work. 75% of those surveyed experienced professional development as a result of becoming a Career Ready mentor. It helps in developing coaching skills and spotting future talent for your company, and it’s a pretty nice feeling to know you’ve made an impact on a young person’s life – a win-win situation!

I joined the mentoring programme earlier this year and only being half way through, I can’t believe how beneficial it’s already been. At our first meeting, we talked about my experience through education and into work and it was then I realised I did have more to offer than originally thought. I understood her concerns and the pressures put onto students which if anything I feel seems to have increased over the last five years.

I have watched my student succeed in exams, gain a work experience placement and we are now working together on looking at university choices. I have grown in confidence in what I feel I am able to offer the next generation and I’ve developed an insight into the reasons for the skills gap and how within G4C, the network for young professionals in the industry, we can do something about this.

Within the industry we are fully aware of the current skills gap, and yet we have highly intelligent students ready to choose their university degree with no idea about the role of Quantity Surveyors, Project Managers, or Facilities Management. Getting more industry professionals involved in a programme like this, will help spread the word of the opportunities the industry has to offer. It’s just one hour a month but it could be life changing for your student and you never know what you might learn from it yourself.

To register as a volunteer please visit  www.careerready.org.uk or contact Karen McCartney Regional Manager North East on karen.mccartney@careerready.org.uk