“It’s time to open our doors and change perceptions of our industry” “It’s time to open our doors and change perceptions of our industry”

Louisa Finlay

Chief people officer, Kier

"Vital to the UK. That’s what our industry is. By delivering infrastructure which can support economic growth, we connect and enable people go about their daily lives, play a key role in decarbonising the country and provide hundreds of thousands, if not, millions, with job opportunities."

"What our industry does matters, and yet, it is still not seen as a go-to for many.  

According to estimates from the Construction Industry Training Board, we need an additional 225,000 construction professionals in the next three years. This is a huge undertaking – not least because this isn’t just about bringing in numbers – a key element of achieving this will be in changing how people see us. 

The onus has to be on us to demonstrate just how rewarding working in construction can be, and to appeal to the countless people who are looking for a new role, or a career change, who don’t know that it is a genuine option. 

In short, in order to plug this gap we need to share widely something which we at Kier have certainly found to be true: that construction is open to everyone, and that no matter what you’re passionate about, what level you’re joining at or what you want to achieve, you can find a home here.

There is a vast amount of talent out there, and those of us within the industry need to be proactive and take charge of bringing those people into construction. We have a vital job to do to communicate the variety of careers available in an industry that requires a huge number of different skills to achieve what it needs to in the coming years. 

From architecture to bricklaying, engineering to sustainability, carpentry to quantity surveying, construction offers such a wide variety of opportunities to learn and develop skills which will put you at the forefront of building our future. This future is going to be created by construction professionals working in a huge number of fields to design, build and make tomorrow’s UK sustainable – using not just the tried and tested methods of the past, but finding ways to integrate data, digital technologies and AI to build more efficiently and sustainably. It truly is an industry where there is something for everyone, and where you can learn new things every day."

Kier sites

44

open in the UK for Open Doors

Kier workforce

6%

on apprenticeship programmes

"Which is why weeks like Open Doors are so important. It is a fantastic way for us to not just tell people what construction has to offer, but to show them."

"Overseen by Build UK, Open Doors Week invites the public to hundreds of construction sites across the country to give them a first-hand insight into the range of work that goes on and hopefully help them take the first step into a new career. At Kier, over the next five days we will welcome people from all walks of life onto 44 of our sites, covering all of our business divisions and a huge variety of job roles. Hundreds of Kier people, including much of our Executive Committee and wider senior leadership team, as well as those on our emerging talent programmes, will take time out of their day to talk to people who are stepping onto site for the first time, and who are hopefully learning that no matter who they are, there is a route into our industry for them.

It's just one of a number of methods we use to attract people to join Kier and the wider construction industry. We are proud of our apprenticeships – with seven different levels of entry for different roles meaning 6% of our workforce are currently on apprenticeship programmes. We also partner with Sheffield Hallam University to offer degree apprenticeships for our people, allowing them to build up skills on site while earning a degree."

"Elsewhere, we run initiatives to recruit in areas which need to be focused on but can sometimes be overlooked – such as our Making Ground programme, which supports prison leavers into sustainable employment. Each of the programmes we run seeks to show people that construction offers them the opportunity to learn, grow and progress – and Open Doors Week gives us the chance to spread that message to more people.

Open Doors Week shows young people the variety of opportunities construction can offer them. It shows those changing careers that the skills they have learned elsewhere can be applied to the built environment, or that there is a brand-new start for them should they want a new adventure. And, just as importantly, it gives a timely reminder to those of us already at Kier of some of the incredible work we do every day.

I believe this is a special industry to work in, and that Kier is a special company to work for. Events like this give us the chance to shine a light on what we do, and hopefully inspire others to join us. So please, get out on site this week if you can – lend a hand, start a conversation with someone unsure of their next step, and help open a door for them."