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Kier pledges to provide 200 schools ambassadors

4 September 2017

Kier chief executive Haydn Mursell has urged the industry to follow its lead and do more to attract young people into the sector.

FTSE 250 contractor has pledged to offer 1% of its workforce as school career ambassadors in a bid to tackle the sector’s “image crisis” and attract new talent. 

Around 200 Kier ambassadors will engage with “at least” 10,000 school pupils across the UK over the next 12 months in a bid to attract some of the 400,000 new recruits construction is forecast to require each year through to 2021. 

Mursell said if other major companies followed its lead, it would create a “powerful network of real world advisers to inform and inspire the next generation”.

Kier was spurred into launching the 1% pledge after a carrying out a survey of 2,000 secondary schools and academies. In a report published last week the survey revealed that two thirds of teachers and careers advisers hold negative views about construction.

The survey also found that nine out of 10 teachers across the UK are unaware of the scale of the recruitment shortfall in construction, with 41% not even realising there is an issue at all.

Furthermore, it reveals the government’s present careers system is failing 13-15-year-olds with just a quarter getting one hour of careers advice.

Kier has received the backing of the Institute of Directors and the government’s Careers & Enterprise Company to launch its initiative, echoing the 5% Club, an industry-led campaign whose members commit to taking on apprentices and graduate trainees.

Kier staff will be released to work with both schools and colleges across the UK with the aim of reaching out to at least 10,000 pupils in the first 12 months.

Mursell said: “With an ageing workforce, uncertainty around Brexit and an ambitious pipeline of construction, housing and wider infrastructure projects… it is imperative that we attract new talent into our industry.

“We have invested in comprehensive resource to train and develop new talent, we offer a vast array of roles, great scope and support for diversity and career progression, and we offer the chance to leave a lasting legacy and make a real contribution to local communities, as well as UK GDP.

“But we also have an image crisis, based on out-of-date perceptions and advice.

“We cannot leave this to schools, councils or the government alone to resolve. Business is best placed to explain itself, its employment offering and its skills and training needs.”

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