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'Without amazing construction people, the country would grind to a halt'

Carillion product development director Joanne Wilkins will be one of three career champions speaking on the Future-gazing stage on day two of the CN Summit.

Ahead of the Summit, CN asked Ms Wilkins for her views on how to attract people to the construction industry.

What should companies be doing to support people entering or returning to work in the industry?

For me this is about forming great networks and connecting with the next generations.

Looking at mums returning to work, it can be daunting to come back into such a fast-paced environment. If we can help by bringing them into established networks with people who have had similar experiences, we can give real-life examples of where people have returned successfully.

I’ve found that girls still believe there are no jobs for them in construction, so visiting schools and showing them what roles I’ve done and talking about other great women in the industry really helps.

Construction has roles for everybody, be that out on site as a signalling engineer or in the office as part of the finance team.

How do you see the digitalisation of construction changing roles and the skills required?

Digitalisation in construction will certainly provide a step-change in the roles available and the skills needed to have a successful career.

It will help to change the perception of so-called ‘dirty’ sites, which isn’t always attractive to new people in industry. It will help bring in new perspectives and attitudes, supporting better work-life mix and the balance of roles in and out of the office.

What should government, companies and individuals be doing to attract the next generation to the industry?

Collaborate, communicate and celebrate! We need to move away from competing as individuals and look to work together.

Communication is crucial; young people are still in the dark on the opportunity construction brings.

And we should celebrate more; without all the amazing people who choose to work in this sector, the country would grind to a halt.

Which is your favourite project you have been involved with?

It’s not really a specific project, but in my current role I look to support the business in terms of innovation.

Last year I went on a tour that gave me the chance to get on site every day. It was one of the best weeks I have had, meeting our diverse workforce at every level.

What will you be speaking about at this year’s Summit?

I’ll be presenting on supporting the next generation of ladies into construction as well as how Carillion is focused on supporting women. When I started at 17, I was one of the few ladies on any of the depots or sites I worked on. This is improving, but not quickly enough.

CN Summit – career champions

Hear from Joanne Wilkins, a career champion, on Day 2 at 14.10 on the Future-gazing stage. She will speak alongside Interserve senior consultant Arran Linton-Smith and Anisa Hussein, associate director - project management, JLL.

To book your place at the CN Summit, click here or call Ilja Ryndin on 020 3033 2609 or by email at





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