5,000 books donated to London primary schools to encourage diversity in the construction industry | Wates

Primary school pupils across London are among the first to receive a unique new children’s book designed to inspire them to work in the construction industry.

Wates Residential has commissioned and donated the first 5,000 copies of What DoConstruction Workers Do? by Emma Juhasz which is aimed at increasing diversity in the sector by supporting learning and providing a more accurate illustration of the wide-ranging jobs available in construction.

The donation was announced today at Peareswood Primary School in Erith where author, Emma Juhasz hosted a special socially distanced read-along and question and answer session with schoolchildren.

In total, the national developer will present 5,000 books to Key Stage 2 pupils at 11 schools across London and the south over the next seven days.

What Do Construction Workers Do? was developed in response to the idea that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’. Children can use the book to learn how construction workers build structures, as well as the different kinds of jobs available.

The book includes characters such as architect Ella, quantity surveyor Yasmin and civil engineer Mo who show children what their jobs involve and the skills required.

It comes after research found that by the age of seven, children already demonstrate limitations on their aspirations for future careers, while many only consider jobs that they are familiar with through friends and family members.

The construction industry is currently facing a skills shortage, and figures from The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) highlight that the industry will need to find 160,000 new recruits by 2023 to keep up with demand. While these children may need to wait a few more years before they join the career ladder, it is hoped that this initiative, alongside the Prime Minister’s recent pledge to “build, build, build” by injecting billions of pounds into public projects to ease the UK through the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, will attract a more diverse group of young people to consider their future in construction.

The book has been endorsed by construction trade body, Build UK and Wates Residential has also become the first construction company to work with the Children’s University, which encourages, tracks and celebrates learning that takes place beyond the classroom. This unique partnership means children will receive a ‘Passport to Learning’ where they can collect two stamps by completing the four interactive activities inside the book.

Leo, a pupil at from Peareswood Primary School who received a copy of the book on Wednesday, commented:

“It is inspiring for me as a kid to see what I can be when I grow up. One day I might even be able to build my own house.”

Azeeza, a pupil at Peareswood Primary School, also commented. She said:

“I really liked the book because it will inspire children like me all around the world to be what they want to be when they grow up. I think construction workers work really hard and I want to be a hard working person when I grow up.”

Kate Ives, Development Director at Wates Residential, said:

“Children can’t be what they can’t see so the role models around them are so important in shaping their future career paths from a young age. Wates Residential is passionate about inspiring individuals from all backgrounds and showing what the sector has to offer. What Do Construction Workers Do? offers a great insight into the diversity of roles and people in our workplaces. The author Emma Juhasz and the Children’s University have done a wonderful job at helping us to bring our sector to life and I hope many more young people will be encouraged to see construction as a career of choice in the future.”

Emma Juhasz, author of What DoConstruction Workers Do?, commented:

“I loved writing What Do Construction Workers Do?, it became clear to me, very quickly, that the construction industry was like a sweet jar of opportunity. It has so many different jobs and caters for a huge variety of skills. I started the series of books, What Do..Do?, focused on helping young children get a better idea of how their talents and interests, could be translated into jobs in their futures. It is easy to see how many of them could end up working in construction. Wates has been very supportive throughout this project and they are inspiringly investing in children and their futures. I hope many children will find the building blocks they need, in the book, to join them one day”.

Suzannah Nichol MBE, Chief Executive of Build UK, commented:

“It is vital that construction reaches out to future generations from a young age and ‘What Do Construction Workers Do?’ is a brilliant way to engage with children and open their eyes to the wide range of jobs and careers it offers. The book’s diverse cast of characters are the perfect way to show them what construction workers do, how this benefits society and our environment, and why people like me are so passionate about the industry. I can say first-hand that they certainly won’t regret choosing a career in it!”

Further copies of the book can be purchased on the author’s website www.emmajuhasz.com or through amazon.co.uk

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