G4C (Generation for Change) is the young professional voice run by volunteers and is open to anyone looking to join the industry, or is in the earlier stages (up to 10 years’ experience) of their career in the built environment sector. It provides a platform to involve and integrate anyone looking to join, or those looking to make the most of, the construction industry. Having joined last month, as a member of the committee and co-chair for the Tees Valley region respectively, degree apprentice Aaran Pearson and I ventured south from our office in Stockton to attend the G4C national conference held in London, on Thursday 24th May 2018.
Buffets and Bigger Pictures
200 miles later, having collected our name badges and made the most of the buffet, we took our places eagerly awaiting the presentation; “#bounceback” being the tagline and topic for the day. The main speaker, Chief Executive of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Sarah Beale, spoke highly of the construction industry, and its potential and ongoing improvements, including 28% of future young professionals surveyed in 2017 seeing the industry as an attractive proposition (up from up from 3% in 2015).
Sarah’s points were clear – we must promote the positive image of construction – shout our many success stories from the rooftops, such as the Olympics, the A1 motorway upgrade and Northern Spire project in Sunderland. It is often the few negative storylines that make the headlines and leave a lasting impression on the industry (Grenfell Tower and Carillion being prime recent examples).
Sarah also stressed the need for a collaborative, concentrated campaign whereby all organisations are promoting the same message on a national level when looking to attract people to the industry. In turn, this will create a greater interest and larger pool of both individuals and skill sets that are attracted by the industry; organisations can be counterproductive within the competitive marketplace, having short-term visions to fill a specific role, rather than understanding the long-term benefits of the ‘bigger picture’.
Panels and Presentations
Next, an open Q&A discussion with a panel of six industry professionals was undertaken, offering their views on the issues within the industry. It was encouragingly pointed out that 44% of those attending on the day were female – higher than the 26% of 18-26 year old’s in the industry at the moment – which can only be a positive sign of things to come for the construction industry. The panel also discussed how spectacular projects were being dismissed as ‘business as usual’ by industry professionals, reiterating Sarah’s earlier message that promotion of these projects would attract and harness younger professionals for the betterment of the industry.
Following the discussion, attendees were asked to vote for their favourite submissions on the sli.do website, whereby three questions had been posted prior to the event requesting proposals from those attending. Aaran and I were proud to receive the most votes on the day and stepped forward to elaborate on our views, focusing on what inspires us about the construction industry: “We’re inspired by the impacts that innovative individuals can have on the entire world, as well as the industry’s growing ability to fulfil its potential.”
For our next task, we were asked to bring an idea to life focusing on ways of inspiring people to join the construction industry. Armed with an A1 sheet of paper, sticky labels and a few pens, groups were given 20 minutes to prepare, followed by two minutes to present their idea. Afterwards, participants all voted for their favourite ideas through the sli.do website once more. Yet again, Aaran and I, in different groups for this task, were voted joint first! Aaran’s group proposed an “Attenborough” type construction documentary whereas my group followed a similar theme by proposing an interactive YouTube channel, focusing on different programmes for different ages, to promote interest in the construction industry.
Networking and New Opportunities
Needless to say, we had a thoroughly enjoyable day, making the most of the chance to meet and network with our peers whilst addressing current underlying issues within the industry. Further networking ensued whilst people played ping pong; we were able to promote our roles, develop relationships and understand the roles of others, and we have since followed up a connection with a potential opportunity in the private rental sector.
This is something you too can be involved in, either next year, or much more often at a local and regional level by joining G4C. Through promoting, supporting and contributing to G4C, we are shaping the industry; G4C events are often free or at cost price and they welcome all future leaders of tomorrow, today!
For Aaran and I, G4C has already filled us with huge optimism for the construction industry, and presented us with the opportunity to further our personal networks whilst taking an active approach to enhancing the industry for future generations.
To get involved with G4C, get in touch or visit http://www.g4c.org.uk/ to find events near you and discover an unrivalled opportunity to make your voice heard – build your reputation, broaden your network and gain access to the some of the brightest and best industry leaders.
By Jonny Frank & Aaran Pearson – Faithful+Gould