Construction students were given an insight into the workings of the industry during a behind-the-scenes tour at Pentland Homes’ Scholars Village in Folkestone.
The 16 to 18-year-olds from Ashford College learned about daily life on a building site and the varied career paths into the construction industry.
The event, which was held to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2016, began with a typical operative induction, followed by a site tour of plots in the early stages of construction up to the finished show homes. At every opportunity students were able to talk to contractors and site managers, asking questions about their experiences.
As Pentland has two and a half times more women employees than the industry average, an important message was that construction is not just for boys.
Ashford College student Kara was particularly pleased to be able to ask questions. She said: “I got to speak to people on site and learn about what they do. It was great to see the progress of a house and learn that they take 20 weeks to build.”
Sub-contractors also took part, many of whom are responsible for apprentices and were therefore in an excellent position to tell the students about work experience and apprenticeship schemes and offering advice on employability.
“This was a great opportunity for our students to meet employers face-to-face and learn the important aspects of a development programme of this scale, such as health and safety and environmental considerations,” said Chris Tyler, work placement co-ordinator for Ashford College.
“They also obtained invaluable information on accessing Apprenticeships and employer expectations.”
With the construction industry facing the twin challenges of an ageing workforce and skilled labour shortage, Pentland Homes believes housebuilders must make themselves part of the solution.
Julia Price, Sales and Marketing Director for Pentland Homes, said: “Encouraging more young women – and young people generally – into the construction industry will not be solved overnight, but initiatives such as apprenticeships are an important way to develop a new skilled, young workforce.
“Our purchasers are both men and women, so it makes sense for women to be part of the process of designing and building homes. As a growing business with a reputation for quality we are only too aware of the importance of attracting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce to ensure our continuing success.
“This event was a great way for us to meet more of the young talent of the future, and we strongly believe apprenticeships are an important way to support and encourage them.”
Since its roots in the 1960s, Pentland Homes’ reputation has steadily grown to become Kent’s premier housebuilder, and in recent years, the company has experienced unprecedented growth, reaching close to one hundred completions in 2015-2016, in addition to the award-winning extra-care home in Ashford.
Projects where construction will shortly commence include sites in Canterbury, Hawkinge and New Romney.