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Manchester construction businesses encouraged to inspire next generation of workers

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An initiative to address the skills shortage in the construction sector and make the industry more diverse and inclusive is calling for businesses to get involved and inspire the next generation of workers.

Organised by Built Environment Skills in Schools (BESS), Manchester Construction Careers Week will see hundreds of schools across the region find out what it’s really like to work in construction, property, engineering and housing.

The focus topic is gender and diversity, which will be explored in detail at the Inspire Summit on 25 September at the Bridgewater Hall with keynote speaker  Barbara Rest, the first woman to oversee the construction of a major skyscraper, Trump Tower.

Businesses can get involved by demonstrating how tech such as virtual reality and gaming is used in the industry, site tours, classroom demonstrations and digital broadcasts. Previous years have seen digital broadcasts from railway lines and from the top of a crane.

The organisers of the Inspire Summit are also looking for relevant businesses to get involved with the conference, with opportunities to speak, exhibit and attend.

Kathryn Lennon-Johnson, founder of BESS, said: “Last year we held Construction Careers Week in Birmingham and had over 400 students take part in all kinds of activities. When we first met the students, on average only 2 per cent stated an interest in a role in construction and less than 10 per cent could name job roles other than architect or bricklayer. After meeting with businesses and employers, 60 per cent of students said they were surprised about the breadth of opportunities.

“Meeting and engaging with the students, whether on site or through the use of technology, is a vital step in attracting more young people into the sector, as well as making it more diverse and inclusive. With several schools and colleges across Greater Manchester taking part this year, it’s important we have as many different businesses on board as possible either at Inspire Summit or with other events and activities throughout the week.”

Joe Broun, event director and founder of Inspire Summit, said: “The skills shortage in the industry has been widely reported for years now. Not only do we want to attract more people into the industry, but we want to see it become more diverse and inclusive. We want girls and young women to see that a career in construction isn’t ‘just for boys’ – it’s an accessible and exciting career path for everyone.”