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Crofton Design MD Steve Hale on loving the variety of construction

Crofton Design managing director Steve Hale tells us why he loves construction.

Q. How did you get into the industry?

A. By accident - I initially trained as a radio officer for the merchant navy, but there were few jobs for British crews when I completed my training in 1981.

I therefore decided to continue my studies and obtain a degree in electrical and electronic engineering. At the time, a family friend was a chemistry lecturer at South Bank Polytechnic (as it was known then), and recommended that I undertook my studies there.  

South Bank has a strong focus on construction and steered my career path towards the sector. I studied what they called a thick sandwich course and did my year out at Oscar Faber and Partners (now Aecom), and the rest is history.

Q. What is the best thing about construction?

A. The variety. You can be working on a complex science project one week, an office fit-out the next week, and a world heritage site the week after that.

Q. If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?

A. The adversarial nature of the industry - we beat each other up to secure a job and then beat each other up when we finish a job.

Wouldn’t it be better for us all if we used that energy to help each other do our jobs better? 

Q. How should we encourage young people to join the industry?

A. Every construction company should have a robust apprenticeship scheme and employ 5 per cent of their workforce as apprentices. This would encourage young people into the industry, but also ensure we’d have a well-trained, motivated workforce.

We would have control over our labour market, reduce our skills shortage over the medium term and significantly reduce youth unemployment.

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