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Wates sustainability director Rachel Woolliscroft on the positive impact of construction

Rachel Woolliscroft says that making history is what makes construction great - and that everyone has a role in encouraging young people into the industry.

How did you get into the industry?

I studied for an environmental science & building surveying degree at Sheffield University. After that, I joined the Building Research Establishment for a couple of years. 

My time there provided a natural springboard into the construction industry. I moved to Wates and now lead sustainability for the group. 

What is the best thing about construction?

In construction, you are a crucial part of making a building part of history – added to the fact that the people, the diversity and the teamwork all combine to make Wates a great place to work.

Besides this motivation, making a difference is a major driving force for me – the impact of buildings on people’s day-to-day lives is immense and not to be underestimated. 

A project manager once told me that building is like having a child. 

You watch it grow from small beginnings into something that you are incredibly proud of and which you will never forget. We should be proud of the difference we make. 

If you could change one thing what would it be?

On a day-to-day level, I’m eager for the industry to really push on with its longstanding vow to reduce waste throughout the construction process. 

Although great strides are being taken by major contractors in this respect, as an industry we can, and must, do more.

How should we encourage young people to join the industry?

Everyone has a role in encouraging more young people into construction – they are the lifeblood of the industry’s future. 

Likewise, the new industrial strategy for construction sets out the aspiration that construction should be a sector of choice for young people, so to achieve this we all need to do our bit.

Long-term commitment is vital, but some really simple ways to give young people a flavour of the industry include: 

  • Encouraging your business to partner with a local school through schemes such as Business Class run by Business in the Community;
  • Participating in Open Doors Weekend 2013 this September;
  • Talking to young people about your own career experience and the opportunities available in our industry through school talks;
  • Invite the local school near your project to visit and learn about what we do.

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