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Open Doors: A precious opportunity we simply must not waste

Open Doors 2017 is fast approaching and with it, the opportunity for the construction industry to don our collective hard hats and show the public what goes on behind our site hoardings in a safe, interactive and informative way.

The theme for this year’s event is careers in construction, and with it comes the chance to inspire a new generation of young people – as well as those outside the industry looking for a new career – to come and find out about the range of job opportunities available in our diverse sector.

Kier is involved in a variety of initiatives to help combat the skills shortage our industry is facing and Open Doors is an important part of our toolbox, as it helps us to demonstrate the breadth of careers in the built environment.

It’s not just construction companies thinking about the industry’s skills shortage.

The government’s recent Budget announcement that T-levels – new technical qualifications that will simplify and vastly improve the quality of vocational training in the UK – will soon be offered to 16-19-year-olds has been billed as the biggest overhaul of post-school education in decades.

But it’s only part of the solution.

Brought to life

As an industry veteran of more than 35 years, I know how important it is to inspire the next generation to come and work with us if we’re going to continue to innovate and grow, and we need to do this before they get to further education.

“If we want to attract a motivated, enthusiastic workforce that’s going to help us on the way, it’s vital to engage with as many people as possible”

Open Doors offers prospective employees the chance to explore a site and gives us the opportunity to bring the industry to life as we talk to them about different jobs on and offsite.

The scheme also gives the public a rare chance to visit a project before it’s built and learn more about what we’re working on in their local community.

This is the fifth year Kier has been involved in the event and it’s set to be our biggest yet, with 40 sites around the UK open for bookings, including heritage restoration at Glasgow School of Art, a new-build school at Deal’s Castle Community College, and student accommodation at the University of Northampton.

The construction industry is always evolving, and if we want to attract a motivated, enthusiastic workforce that’s going to help us on the way, it’s vital to engage with as many people as possible.

Whether they are entering the job market, looking for the next stage in their career or simply looking to find out about the site at the end of their street, initiatives like Open Doors give us the chance to do exactly that.

Nigel Brook is executive director for construction and infrastructure services at Kier

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