Better Learners Better Workers Construction Programme at Henry Boot
Adeana Raper is Employment and Skills Manager at Henry Boot Construction, one of four major construction companies that have grouped together with the Go Construct careers advice scheme to support the Better Learners Better Workers programme.
“There’s a skill shortage looming in this industry. Young people don’t understand what careers are available in construction. It’s not just about trades, there are professional jobs and routes through college and university. This scheme can give them an understanding. That’s why a number of firms like us have come together as a partnership to back Better Learners Better Workers.
“By coming together, we can offer students an insight into the range of construction activity that goes on. We are all in construction but we all work differently and each construction site is different. For example, at Henry Boot we are building a new residential home for St Wilfrid’s homeless charity. That’s a very different build from the new University Technical College or the redevelopment of the Graves leisure centre that BAM is doing. We have our Head Office in Sheffield so like Kier we can offer students a visit to our offices to see how operations are managed behind the scenes. It’s been good to work collaboratively from an industry perspective.”
The scheme is structured so the students do site visits in the first year and work experience in the second year. In-between times, they learn in school about competencies that are required behind the scenes to manage construction activity.
Adeana is pleased with progress: “We have had seven girls on the programme so far, which is great. It turns out that the girls are good at plastering. It’s opened their eyes to think, ‘This is a job I could do’. All the students are very enthusiastic, quite boisterous and vocal. Everything has to be engaging, interactive and age-appropriate, not just talking at them. We have realised that we need to involve them in activities.”
Adeana feels there is already evidence that the scheme is opening the eyes of young people to the opportunities in construction: “One or two have already said that they are now looking into construction as a career choice. For example, we have one young man who wants to be a pilot but now is he is also thinking about building a plane!”
The scheme is also bringing benefit to Henry Boot in unexpected ways, as Adeana explains. “Interaction with young people is always good, but one of our apprentice administrators aged 17 has found it particularly helpful. She has said to me, ‘This was me two years ago.’ It’s helped her to realise what she’s learnt. It’s also developed her because having to present to the Ambassadors has built her confidence. It’s been good for site staff to talk to the young people about careers. I would say it’s had a definite impact on Henry Boot staff.”