Construction a most misunderstood profession | Wates
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CONSTRUCTION A MOST MISUNDERSTOOD PROFESSION

Growing up with a Dad who was a mechanical and electrical (M&E) engineer, construction was always an industry that was close to home.

But, unsure of which direction I was heading coming out of school, I ended up pursuing a career in sales and advertising, making the most of my communication skills and the enjoyment I get from building relationships with people.

Steve Yates, Business Development Manager for Wates Construction in London, talks about the next generation during National Apprenticeship Week.

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I never thought I’d be working for a large contractor like Wates, yet as my career progressed, here I am.

My story is not an unusual one. Many people are surprised to find there is a role for them in construction, and they might never even encounter a brick or crane. The construction industry has evolved almost beyond recognition in the last few decades, and now a huge proportion of roles are based predominantly in offices or out in the field.

I made my way to Wates having gone into business development firstly for a building services management business, then with a construction firm. The diversity of roles available in this industry is incredible, and as the lead for business development for London Construction I work with an array of talented designers, relationship managers, project managers and technical specialists.

Bringing new ideas and inspiration to the fore

Following my own experience, I feel passionately that more people should look at the vast opportunities this industry offers – so many automatically disregard it as they either feel they don’t have the right skills or won’t be a good cultural fit. Apprenticeships can be an excellent path into this varied and exciting sector.

In 2020, 50 percent of our trainee and apprenticeship intake was female and over half joined as a college or school leaver, but many just came to us looking for a career change. These stats absolutely contradict common misconceptions around both apprenticeships and gender bias in the industry although of course there is a lot more work to be done to create a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.

This year we’ll be welcoming 26 trainees and apprentices to the business across a variety of roles on and offsite. Our new entrants are important to us for many reasons. Not only are they the future of our industry but they also bring a host of new skills and ideas into the mix. That’s why this year we are setting up a ‘Next Generation Council’ a platform to allow our rising stars to feedback to the leadership team about ways we can improve, make the business as welcoming and inclusive as possible, and work smarter.

I’ll be chairing this forum and I’m looking forward to nurturing a passion for work and hearing how we can do better as a business. We’ll then take these ideas forward and implement the best suggestions.

It’s really important that we put our next generation front and centre of everything we do to future proof our business and make us more innovative and effective for our customers. I’d strongly encourage anyone from all backgrounds to consider a career in construction. There really is a role for everyone.

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