A new website dedicated to promoting the construction industry in Cornwall has been launched.
The site, www.buildingcornwall.co.uk, has been developed by the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership in collaboration with the construction industry in the region.
It is the latest stage of the LEP’s Building Cornwall initiative aimed at supporting the local construction industry to grow the skills, knowledge and capacity it needs to thrive, and meet the ever-increasing demand for a sustainable built environment in Cornwall.
The website is designed to showcase the range of rewarding career opportunities in construction, and foster collaboration, innovation and best practice in the industry.
It was launched to coincide with the recent Cornwall Skills Show at the Royal Cornwall Showground, where more than 3,500 Cornish school children met with 120 local businesses to learn more about career opportunities in Cornwall, including construction.
LEP Board director Simon Caklais, who has over 30 years’ experience in construction, said: “Construction offers fantastic career opportunities for a diverse range of talents from traditional trades to digital design and advanced off-site manufacturing. Its pays very well and offers opportunities both globally, nationally and most importantly here in Cornwall, but we have historically been poor at shouting about what it has to offer. There are many examples of pioneering construction best practice right here in Cornwall but again, as a sector, we are often too busy to tell others.
“The website is a great new resource, which will hopefully address this lack of communication and we hope it will be a focal point for the industry in Cornwall and Scilly.
“Building Cornwall is about making sure there is capacity in our industry to build new homes, workspace and infrastructure now and in the future, while promoting the principles of high quality, sustainability and social value.
“Construction is a real driver of our economy, with rewarding and well-paid jobs. We also want to promote new and sustainable building methods that reduce costs and the impact on the environment because we think Cornwall can lead the way.”
Building Cornwall’s Project manager is Inga Geach, who also leads the EU-funded Developing Skills for Business project which is working with construction businesses to ensure they have the skills they need.
Inga said: “We’re very keen to work across the industry and hear from local businesses who want to find out more about what Building Cornwall can do for them, including the development, piloting and funding of new training schemes. They can get in touch with me directly through the website.”
The construction industry in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly employs more than 25,000 people and contributes £867 million to the economy every year. It is also the highest paid sector, paying just over £32,000 on average, based on advertised vacancies.
The Building Cornwall website is full of information about the different careers available in construction, from architecture and interior design, to planning, environmental management and health and safety.
It has advice for anyone thinking about how to get into construction, including work experience, apprenticeships, other qualifications and information about local courses.
There are section for parents and teachers about careers in construction, and for employers there is advice about training and apprenticeships and how to attract the next generation of workers to the industry.
The Building Cornwall website has been welcomed by the industry in Cornwall.
Rachel Gaunt from PBWC Architects said: “Building Cornwall will allow anyone with the passion, expertise and resources to collaborate in new ways, to share knowledge for the good of Cornwall. Together we can find practical solutions to help tackle climate change and we can create meaningful and valuable design and construction careers that will transform the lives of young people within our county.”
Paula Hutchens, of the Cornwall Construction Training Group, said: “By bringing everyone together under the Building Cornwall banner it will heighten awareness of the built environment sector and its importance within Cornwall, and encourage new people into the industry.”
Building Cornwall aims to tackle a skills shortage in construction by attracting more young people into the industry and helping others retrain.
One way to do this is promoting apprenticeships as a route to a rewarding career while equipping businesses with the skills they need.
Redruth-based RG Kellow is an independent construction company with around 30 staff which invests heavily in employee training and development
RG Kellow currently employs four apprentices – electrical, carpentry, painting and decorating and multi-trade – three of whom study through Cornwall College.
HR manager Lorraine Collins said: “We strongly believe that if you hand-pick your apprentices and get the correct person for your company, then they will flourish. It’s investing in the future of your employees, of your trade and of your company.”
Over the past seven years RG Kellow has invested in more than 10 successful apprenticeships – with huge interest following a recent apprentice recruitment campaign.
Its apprentices have been a mix of school leavers, current employees who have skills but no qualifications, and older people seeking a career change.
“There are many specialist areas in construction,” said Lorraine. “With the advent of technology, there is a risk good quality hands-on trades will disappear – which would be a disaster. We feel that if we invest in keeping these skills alive, we are not only investing in the company, but the construction industry of the future.”
When Becky Rogers was faced with a career crossroads, it was the construction industry, and Kier Group, that she turned to begin her second career.
Becky joined the Royal Marines aged 18 and was part of the Royal Marines Band Service for 15 years, playing piano and clarinet. She was medically discharged after suffering a hip injury on a training exercise, which meant she had difficulty sitting for long periods of time.
Becky said: “While I was undergoing rehabilitation, I completed a five month work placement in Corporate Responsibility and Marketing at Kier. Following that, Kier offered me a job as Bid Coordinator.
“Working in the construction industry is really rewarding, there are so many diverse roles and lots of variety.”
Since joining Kier in 2017, Becky has completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Built Environment Studies and progressed to the role of Pre-Construction Coordinator before taking up her current position.
Becky added: “It was really daunting to start a second career in my 30s, but I can see an exciting future ahead of me in the construction industry – there are so many opportunities and different routes to go.
“The Armed Forces was all I had ever known, and my colleagues at Kier were so understanding and supportive during my transition into civilian work.”