Primary school pupils in Harrow are among the first to receive a unique new children’s book designed to inspire them to work in the construction industry.
The new book aims to increase diversity in the sector by supporting learning and providing a more accurate illustration of the wide-ranging jobs available in construction.
What Do Construction Workers Do? Was developed in response to the idea ‘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 kind of jobs available. It includes characters such as Ella, an Architect and Yasmin, a Quantity Surveyor who tell children about what their roles consist of and the qualifications needed. 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.
Wates Residential is also 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’ in which they can collect two stamps by completing the four interactive activities inside the book.
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 few months.
Anesa, a pupil at Elmgrove Primary School, commented on receiving the book:
“I loved the book. Every time I re-read it it makes me want to be a construction worker in the future because you can design a unique building that no one has ever built before and that is unique. The book also has my dream job: an architect.”
Alesia, another pupil at the school, said:
“I learnt that there are many different stages to making a building and the different jobs that are involved. The Sales Manager sounds really interesting because I like persuading people so this book made me think about working in the construction industry a lot and I think it will persuade anyone that reads it. There are so many cool jobs in the construction process!”
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 can join the career ladder, it is hoped that this initiative will attract a more diverse group of young people to consider their future in construction.
Harrow Council announced Wates Residential as their joint venture partner for the £600 million Harrow Strategic Development Partnership (HSDP) in September 2020. The partnership will see the transformation of Wealdstone, building 1,500 new homes, including many affordable homes, a new civic centre, shops, offices and a school as well as creating public and green spaces.
The joint venture partners have also committed to providing training and employment opportunities and supporting local charities and community groups as part of their regeneration plans. This will include working with hundreds of young people at schools and colleges across the borough to provide school curriculum support and help raise aspirations; investing in employment, providing construction training for over 130 unemployed adults to help kick-start their careers; and delivering 220 apprenticeships. Local businesses will also benefit from a spend close to £100m, providing a boost to the local economy.
Councillor Keith Ferry, Regeneration, Planning & Employment Portfolio Holder, Harrow Council said:
“This is a great initiative to engage young people in Harrow with the construction industry and the skills and opportunities it provides.
“Our partnership with Wates Residential will create life chances for our young people and show that Building a Better Harrow is not just about building homes for local people. It’s about investing in the borough by delivering employment, education, skills and training for Harrow residents.”
Kate Ives, Development Director at Wates Residential, said:
“We are delighted to have been able to donate these books to pupils at Elmgrove Primary School and hope that they will inspire the children to think about the huge range of roles and opportunities available in the construction industry.
“Children’s potentials are being limited from a young age because they can’t be what they can’t see. At Wates Residential, we are passionate about inspiring children from all backgrounds and showing that the sector is open to all. Author, Emma Juhasz has done a wonderful job at helping us to bring our sector to life in What Do Construction Workers Do? 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 Do Construction 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? as I wanted to help 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 are inspiringly invested in children and their futures. I hope many children will find the building blocks they need, in the book, and join them one day.”