After more than a year of operation, the industry’s BuildForce project has seen 24 service leavers complete successful placements with construction employers, with 14 going on to take jobs in the construction industry.
The industry initiative, co-ordinated by industry charity the Construction Youth Trust (CYT) and part-funded by the CITB, was set up to educate, inspire and inform service leavers about the wide range of career opportunities in construction.
BuildForce works directly with 10 employers in the industry: Carillion, Crossrail, LendLease, Morgan Sindall, Wilson James, PJ Carey Group, Kier, Brookfield Multiplex, HE Simm and Laing O’Rourke.
Angela Forbes, commercial director of LendLease, commented: “The placements highlighted the transferable skills [of the service leavers] and how simple the transition would be. The depth and talent of the service leavers overwhlemed us during the placements.”
Almost two-thirds of the way through the 21-month pilot project, which started in April 2014, results show that a further 175 servicemen have attended six industry awareness events put on through the initiative and 158 service leavers have engaged with the BuildForce brokerage service – achieving 99% of the target set at the beginning of the project.
Following completion of the pilot this December, the CYT aims to develop BuildForce and to more widely share the model across the industry and across the UK.
Commenting on the progress so far, Rebecca Lovelace, BuildForce project manager from Circle Three Consulting, told Construction Manager that the construction sector faces competition from other industries to hire ex-services personnel.
“There is a tremendous amount of interest from industry employers to recruit from the military, and the skills sets that come with ex-forces personnel are very attractive, especially in terms of leadership, teamwork and project management,” she said.
“However, we are up against strong recruitment competition from other sectors and there is still work to be done on selling construction as a career, on the image of the industry and on the sheer range of exciting career opportunity that still isn’t sufficiently visible.
“There is a real opportunity to understand the skills and qualifications of service leavers, to map them against those needed by industry and to deliver bespoke employer-led conversion training to fill the gaps.
“We have had some real success with BuildForce in providing opportunities for employers to engage with service leavers. Our industry events have been especially well received, demonstrating that an informal environment in which service leavers can ask questions, hear from employers and engage on a one-to-one basis are of real benefit.
“Direct job outcomes have resulted from this approach, as have work placements that have also lead to employment. The main opportunity I see is for regular employer/service leaver events to continue to take place, alongside a targeted understanding of skills supply and demand across the industry and across the forces, with the delivery of employer-led training bridging the two.”
The news comes ahead of Armed Forces Day, on 27 June, as as the industry highlights the potential for former services personnel to take up posts in the sector to help address skills shortages.
The CIOB in particular offers a number of routes, depending on experience and qualifications, to a professional chartered career in construction for serving or ex-military personnel.
Military qualifications such as an HNC in Military Clerk of Works or Design Draftsman Class 1 are recognised by the CIOB for its membership programmes.
Bridget Bartlett, deputy chief executive at the CIOB said: “Men and women who have served in the military often possess excellent leadership, team working, project management and problem solving skills, all of which are highly sought after in the construction industry. There are plenty of opportunities for those leaving the armed forces to begin a new career in construction and that is not limited to trade skills but also at the management level.”
Current projections suggest that more than 20,000 individuals leave the armed forces every year, with the latest employment forecasts predicting that construction will need to find almost 224,000 new recruits by 2019.
Meanwhile, Carillion is planning a three day training event for service leavers on 14-16 July, based around careers in construction