Addressing the Challenges Facing the Built Environment

Last week, we held our second round table addressing the skills shortages and diversity and inclusion within the Engineering and Construction sector. You can read the takeaways from our first session here.

Covering topics including digital poverty and early talent attraction, we discussed what can be done to address the many issues the industry faces.

The Built Environment is currently largely unknown by early talent who are looking at career options, and to attract them it also needs to be well paid, rewarding, and show its ability to be future proof. As it’s seen as male oriented, cold, muddy, rough work, National Rail say they only receive about 10% of job applications from women. Although in recent years the BAME representation and gender split has improved slightly, ‘it’s not enough’, says Chris Shirley.

Building Schools Pipelines

To excite young people to look at the Built Environment all around them, CSTT propose the following:

  • Enrich the mainstream curriculum. With 200,000 GCSE Geography students each year, this is a great early pathway.
  • Teachers can download free resources on their site, with lesson plans, activities and videos. After the pilot of this, students went from 3% to 90% understanding of the importance of the Built Environment. 55% would now consider a career in the sector.
  • CSTT will source an employer to speak to students, which hits Gatsby Benchmarks 4, 5 and 6.
  • Optional competition including a short presentation about their work, with the incentive of a cash prize, work experience, site visits, and further programmes.

Further considerations in 2020

This year, Network Rail are considering using the incentive money from the Government for bringing on apprentices to create a fund to support people experiencing digital poverty.

The issue was also raised that the exam results this year may not be trustworthy, and that industry programmes may need to adapt accordingly.

Overall, it was felt that whilst the pandemic has provided more opportunity for flexible working, it’s further highlighted the need to address diversity within the workplace and support social mobility.