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Tapping the military for construction skills

News   •   Jan 26, 2017 11:32 GMT

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Every year, 14,000 individuals leave the armed forces. And, although service leavers and veterans receive careers advice, construction is not a career of choice for them when they return to civvy street. Yet, the skills shortage continues for construction.

A new, monthly webinar launches in January 2017 to celebrate schemes and initiatives focused on tackling some of construction’s most embedded problems – diversity, skills, ethics and wellbeing. Although the construction industry holds many seminars, conferences and summits, to date they’ve tended to repeat the same vague goals. BEtheAction was created to provide a platform for changemakers in the industry, taking place as a regular webinar, held at 1pm on the second Friday of every month with guests from all areas of the sector.

Our first guest was Rebecca Lovelace, creator of BuildForce. BuildForce was conceptualised in 2011, and connects service leavers and veterans to construction careers. It’s currently funded by the CITB and is backed by some of the biggest names in the industry – Crossrail, Carillion, Wilson James, Morgan Sindall, Lendlease and EY.

BuildForce recognises a talent pool of leavers from the armed forces, and seeks to make the process of connectivity easier for everyone in construction but particularly for smaller businesses. As a collaborative industry-led programme, with an objective to reduce the skills gaps in construction, BuildForce will connect the military community to construction careers through a UK-wide alliance of employers, industry bodies and charities, supported by government. The alliance will inspire, engage and enable Service Leavers and Veterans to achieve sustainable employment in the construction industry, through a unique national network of mentors and champions.

Rebecca was very keen to emphasise that BuildForce must be led by the construction industry, and one of the key requirements is to promote the industry as a career of choice to those currently leaving the armed forces, as well as those whose service will continue for a year or more. Simply understanding the breadth of the construction sector can pose quite a challenge, not to mention the importance of matching the right talent to the right organisation, so if your company is committed to promoting construction and developing your workforce then BuildForce can connect you with the right military people to help your business.

From sustainability to infrastructure, technology to wellbeing, and regeneration to diversity, there is so much to know and understand in construction that businesses taking the opportunity to support service leavers will undoubtedly create a loyal and committed workforce

A vital component to the success of the project is ensuring that careers messaging matches with key areas of skills shortages, and there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that happens:

  1. sign up to the BuildForce Charter at . Be part of the system design, and contribute to the discussions around opportunities to use the model for other areas of potential talent pools for construction
  2. download the BuildForce Industry Information pack from the website
  3. become a BuildForce mentor to support individual service leavers to transition from military life into rewarding careers in construction
  4. become a BuildForce champion to help promote construction as a career of choice throughout the military, and ensure that key areas of skills shortage are highlighted
  5. And for those who love a knees-up, there are a handful of tickets left for the launch event at the Tower of London on 31st All details at

The next BEtheAction webinar takes place at 1pm on 10th February, and we want to share the best and brightest initiatives for change across the construction sector! Please get in touch via Twitter @BE_theAction

Kathryn Lennon-Johnson is the founder of Built Environment Skills in Schools, and 50% of BEtheAction alongside Maria Coulter from Construction Coach

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