This year, Kier opened a record 53 sites across the country as part of Open Doors Week.
As a Build UK member, Kier aims to open even more sites this year in a bid to encourage people in the sector to help change public perceptions of construction.
We work in a fascinating and rewarding industry, with the opportunity to build a lifelong and meaningful career. We are leaving lasting legacies in communities across the country and helping to shape the skylines of tomorrow. What we do creates talking points and provides new places and spaces for people to work, live and play.
And yet, the next generation of talent, and those looking to change careers, are still not considering our sector. The general public remains unclear as to what we do and the positive impact we have. We have a well-documented skills crisis and, as our own report highlighted last year, failure to act could threaten £90bn of GDP.
So what’s the solution? It’s not a quick fix and it is going to take time but the only way we can bring about real change is by working together and supporting initiatives like Open Doors Week.
I wish there had been initiatives like this when I was young. I discovered the built environment through my father’s own profession as a wall and floor tiler, working as a subcontractor for one of the major building firms. In the summer holidays I would visit him at work; this no doubt ignited a passion for construction and is one reason why I have been working in this sector for nearly 15 years.
“In Open Doors Week, we have a real chance to showcase our diverse workforces and highlight the breadth of roles available”
Open Doors Week is a chance to engage with local communities, highlight what we are doing and the benefits it will bring. It also gives the sector an opportunity to shine a light on the talented individuals working in our businesses, from site managers to quantity surveyors to commercial directors, as well as apprentices and graduates.
Over the seven days of Open Doors Week, we have a real chance to showcase our diverse workforces and highlight the breadth of roles available. This is something I am incredibly passionate about; I firmly believe we will do our best work with a dynamic workforce and as diversity champion at Kier I am incredibly proud of the progress we are making.
Inspired to think differently
During the last 12 months, hundreds of Kier employees have become ambassadors and engaged with more than 15,000 schoolchildren to inspire the next generation.
But there’s so much more we can do. As an industry, we must unite to attract the estimated 400,000 new recruits needed each year. We must look to open more sites than ever before, let the public meet the teams behind the projects and inspire them to think about construction differently.
As the famous phrase from Henry Ford goes: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Let’s collaborate to change perceptions, inspire change and futureproof our industry.
On 18 March, I will be at one of our sites ready to open the doors. Will you?
Claudio Veritiero is chief operating officer at Kier