More than 1,000 young people had the chance to try out the latest cutting-edge technology in the construction sector at a showcase event organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
As part of National Apprenticeship Week, the WMCA held the first Plant Construction Careers Live event at Millennium Point, Birmingham, yesterday (Tuesday 4 February) to raise awareness of the variety of careers within the sector.
Visitors had a go on plant simulators, watched demonstrations of the latest machinery, and found out about new emerging jobs, such as drone pilots, and how virtual reality and robotics are being used in the construction sector.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street (fourth from left) meets (L-R) students Ibrahim Ali, Thomas Savory, Connor Oldale, Rhys Fieldhouse and Brandon Edwards at Plant Construction Careers Live
Representatives from 30 employers, universities and specialist training providers were on hand to give expert advice and information about future jobs in the sector.
More than 1,000 young people aged 16-18, mainly from colleges across the region, and 500 adults attended the event.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who opened the event, said: “The construction industry in the region is expected to create 50,000 new jobs over the next ten years, offering fantastic careers for young people and adults.
“It’s vital to the success of the industry that we bring in fresh talent. Plant Construction Careers Live is a great way to highlight the wealth of opportunities available in this sector.
“Through programmes like our Construction Gateway, we’re showing local people how to get the skills needed to gain a job in the plant sector on major projects including HS2, the Midland Metropolitan Hospital and the Commonwealth Games.”
Exhibitors at the event included Wembley-based P Flannery Plant Hire, which has recently opened a new training centre and depot near Sutton Coldfield. The company brought a state-of-the art simulator and the latest plant machinery to the event.
Skills director Paul Skitt said: “Flannery Plant are delighted to support Plant Construction Careers Live for National Apprenticeship Week. It was great to see so many enthusiastic young people having a go on our equipment and to talk to them about the range of career opportunities available. There are also some key occupational shortages in plant, such as operators and mechanics, and we’re hoping this event will bring some new talent into the industry.”
The WMCA’s Construction Gateway introduces learners to construction skills – giving them the ‘tickets’ they need to be site-ready for work – and, crucially, guarantees them a job interview on completion of the course. They also get help with interview techniques, CV writing and employability skills.
Adults who are unemployed, or on short-hours contracts or low-skilled jobs, are eligible to join the programme.
After completing the course, they are supported on their journey to work through the National Careers Service for as long as they need, regardless of whether their first interview is a success.
Those who are not offered a job immediately are added to the West Midlands “site-ready talent pool” – which is shared with construction recruiters and provides a list of people who are ready for work immediately.
So far, 1,403 people have been through the Construction Gateway training since summer 2018, with 627 people having successfully moved into jobs after completing the course.
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “We know the construction industry is facing a critical skills shortage.
“It’s not just about bricklaying – working in the sector means local people could be using cutting-edge equipment and technology such as drones, virtual reality and robotics. I hope everyone who has visited the Plant Construction Careers Live event now takes the time to think about starting a career in construction.”
To sign up for construction training, talk to your local JobCentre or contact the National Careers Service West Midlands on 0121 296 5550, or you can find out more information about the National Careers Service via https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/ or by calling 0800 100 900.