City of Bristol College hosted its inaugural Construction Question Time event last week and welcomed industry professionals to the College’s South Bristol Skills Academy, near Hengrove Park, for a panel discussion and tours of the new £9m Advanced Construction Skills Centre.
The event saw compere Neil Sherreard, Non-Executive Director and Deputy Chairman at Beard Construction, quizzing a panel of experts on topics including:
- How we ensure young people don’t see construction as a ‘poor career’
- We have been talking about it for years – why do we still have a skills gap?
- Shortage of materials in the industry
- Flexi working and ensuring inclusivity for everyone
- The shake up and implications of the Building Act
Neil was joined by City of Bristol College’s Andy Forbes, Bristol City Councillor Tom Renhard, Rupert Perkins from John Perkins Construction, Beard Construction’s Chairman Mark Beard and CITB’s Nick James. Unfortunately, Charlotte Olver from Vistry Partnerships was forced to self-isolate and could not attend the event.
Guests to the event enjoyed a continental breakfast and refreshments before sitting down to hear the thoughts of the industry professionals.
One topic which was discussed in-depth was the approach the flexible working hours in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rupert Perkins, Managing Director of John Perkins Construction, weighed in on the discussion, saying: “There will be more we can do to accommodate flexi-working than in the past. Simply put, we can show flexibility to help people leave early and arrive a bit later. We would rather employees engage with us and try to come up with outcomes to benefit everyone than just do it. We want people to have transparency and have grown-up conversations with us.
CITB’s Partnerships Director, Nick James, said: “Work is a balance of team work and we need to recognise we are on a journey post-lockdown and there is likely to be more home-based working and learning and less 9-5 working.”
The panel also discussed the future of construction, to which Beard Construction’s Chairman Mark Beard said: “People are at the forefront of understanding technology, Artificial Intelligence and this is the way the industry is going.”
Neil then opened the discussion to the floor, where other industry representatives were able to pose their own questions. Bristol City Council’s Head of Services (Employment, Skills and Learning), Jane Taylor, asked a question around tapping into culture and diversity in the industry, specifically the ‘great career opportunities for women in the future’.
The College’s Principal and Chief Executive, Andy Forbes, said: “There a number of problems, sometimes people’s image of the industry is out of date and we need to get that message across as early as primary age. Research has shown that by not doing this early, it is too late! We need to get into the primaries or even nurseries to change attitudes and perception.”
Other questions included topics around the age demographic of workers, encouraging students into construction early and about the Advanced Construction Skills Centre.
After the event, members of the City of Bristol College team took guests on the tour of the Advanced Construction Skills Centre. The Centre, which is now just over a month away from opening to its first cohort of students, is a purpose-built, sustainable, state-of-the-art facility in south Bristol.
Workshops are beginning to take shape and it was exciting to show industry professionals the newest addition the College’s map.
Find out what is happening at the City of Bristol College and its Advanced Construction Skills Centre at www.cityofbristol.ac.uk