The UK faces a skills shortage that is worsening year on year
For the last couple of years I have attended many skills shortage groups to discuss plugging the gap. There is no immediate quick fix solution and the lack of understanding and education of the construction industry to the outside world is extremely limited. It is that knowledge twinned with the fact that when I stood at the school gate I was asked 'Did you go to the middle east for your husbands job?' It was my answer of, 'no it was for my job, I was sent to be part of a construction team that build an oil rig', that was met with surprise and curiosity. Further questions then prevailed such as 'What do you do? What’s a QS? How did you know about Quantity Surveying as a career?' The ultimate question of 'How can my daughter do something like that?'
Knowing that the construction industry faces a huge skills shortage and my experience at the school gates made me want to explore solutions to the issue. I was aware that very admirably we have several industry professionals that also strive to go some way to resolving the issues via school engagement and many other initiatives designed to educate people about their profession. I knew that a lot of engagement was happening at secondary school level and could totally understand why this was the case. School leavers are presumably the next construction in take. However, I felt like primary school children were almost left behind and my thoughts were that we need to get construction into the minds of children at as an early an age as possible.
I was well aware of the monumental task of reaching out to all school children, teaching professionals and parents alike.
My thoughts were we needed a product that could en masse engage with children and teach teaching professionals and parents about the construction industry and so the idea of Molly in Construction was born. It was specifically written to plug the gap at primary school age. I wanted to get into the minds of children at a young an age as possible and make them think beyond houses, bricks, a cement mixer, digger, dumper and crane.
Molly in Construction educates children on different job roles, it explores their job title, what they do and how they fit into the team at each stage of the project. It uses real life terminology, and the illustrations identify real life documents for example the programme is representative of a programme we would see out on the construction site.
I also wanted to use Molly in Construction to target ethnic minorities and women in construction not only do we have an issue drawing the next generation in but we also have an issue attracting young girls and individuals from different backgrounds and cultures (BAME). I have experience of working with multi race, multi nationality and multi-cultural team for my time in the Middle East. My experience of this is only positive. The solutions and end results that are achieved from a multi race, multi nationality and multi-cultural team is exponential and it is both rewarding and a privilege to be part of that team. It is my opinion that in the UK we need to open our industry to every single individual regardless of their background. It will certainly close the skills gap and the rewards will be plentiful. You can further read my views regarding this in my short article, construction, and the jigsaw puzzle. With regards to attracting young girls into the industry we must break down the barrier and image that construction is a job for the boys. The more young girls we attract and retain the quicker the picture will change but we must attract them in the first place. The main character in Molly in Construction is female along with other female professionals that Molly comes across including a crane driver. The illustration of the labour team also includes women.
I also wanted parents to be able to sit down with their children and read a story that would hopefully educate them about construction. I wanted it to open their mind to the opportunities available to their children and hopefully give them the foresight to encourage their children to explore the different career options. More than anything I wanted every construction worker to be able to read a story to their children and say this is what I do every day, this is what I’m part of, this is what I do when I’m not with you. Every single construction worker should be proud of what they achieve daily. They change the landscape of our world and achieve things that positively impact upon people’s daily lives without even realising it. We would not be able to carry out our normal everyday routine in the way that we do if it wasn’t for a construction worker. Even something as simple as cleaning our teeth. We should appreciate that and celebrate that more than we do.
Since Molly in Construction has been released I wrote a number of STEM days linked to the EYFS and national curriculum for reception, Key Stage 1, lower key stage 2 and upper key stage 2. I have successfully delivered a upper key stage 2 stem day to a school in Sunderland. Thirty children from 8:30 till 2:30 talking about nothing else but construction and then planning and building a structure was amazing. At the start of the day the children related construction to housebuilding only and by the end of the day I had recruited an engineer. I ask the recruit if he wanted to be an engineer at the beginning of the day or if he even knew what an engineer was at the beginning of the day? The answer was no, I would say that’s firm evidence of job done!
What is next I hear you ask? Well, another story of course!
In the meantime if you would like to buy your own copy of 'Molly in Construction' follow the link here
About the author
Lisa Molloy MRICS, MCICES is Commercial Director at Molloy Construction Services. with experience of working for the Client, Contractor and Sub-Contractor, with joint venture experience in Civil Engineering, Rail, Renewable Energy, Energy and Power and Oil and Gas sector. She is competent in Contract Administration and Management, Cost Control, and Delay Analysis.
For more details contact Lisa firstname.lastname@example.org or through LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-molloy-mrics-mcinstces-0074501a/