Errin Hendry-Giles of Taylor Wimpey West Scotland recently visited a local school to set the pupils some fun construction-based projects and here she tells us how core subjects are vital to education and careers alike.
Hi Errin, please tell us about yourself and your role at Taylor Wimpey West Scotland.
I am 23-years-old and have been with Taylor Wimpey as a technical management trainee for almost two years. I am currently doing an MSc in Environmental Engineering at Strathclyde University as part of the further education opportunity that the Taylor Wimpey trainee program provides. We are encouraged to get involved with the company and take an interest in some wider aspects of the business such as getting involved in our Young Persons’ Forum and help to organise/run community and school events.
What is STEM and what’s its connection to a career in housebuilding?
STEM is the fundamental subjects that are behind almost every career; Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. These are subjects that everybody uses and they are becoming increasingly important within the school environment. At Taylor Wimpey, we are able to provide a link between school education and working life via STEM initiatives.
Within housebuilding there are a large variety of jobs, and there are the various professional positions such as construction and engineering that have an obvious STEM focus. However there are also jobs in legal, commercial, sales and others, which use a mixture of STEM subjects.
Are these skills especially important in your job? Did they come naturally to you or have you had to work hard at them to succeed?
As a management trainee we gain experience across the different departments. I cover all the STEM criteria from the science behind the site investigation to maths within major earthwork projects and many tasks in-between. From my perspective maths and science are subjects which I have been comfortable with. However, the more advanced my studies become the more work and effort that is required. I believe that working hard and having the right attitude is key to becoming successful.
How was your first-hand experience on talking about STEM with youngsters at Bargeddie Primary School recently? What did you take away from it?
Working with the children was great fun. Our presentation followed by the practical challenge was designed to engage the students and ignite their imagination in a ‘real-world’ problem solving concept. It was hands-on learning experience that kept the children engaged in what they were learning. For me it was a chance to inspire the next group of youngsters to want to get involved and learn to problem solve. I had some fun with the presentation: making it bright, colourful and interesting.
Is a focus on STEM relevant across all age groups, and have you been involved with STEM projects with TW at other places?
I believe STEM is important at any age. It is about taking the skills and tools being taught and using them to investigate, problem solve, think creatively and find solutions. From a young age STEM helps students to transfer their skills and knowledge into practical situations. As they get older the focus on STEM subjects consolidates the transfer to problem solving with clear outcomes. As they progress through secondary school and further STEM is about pulling the individual elements together into a tangible role; It is about the real-world application of their skills and knowledge. Taylor Wimpey are delighted to have the opportunity to provide support and information for the communities and schools. This was my first STEM event and our first with a range of younger age groups.
With a recognised skills shortage across the construction sector, is partnering up on STEM at schools/colleges something that more housebuilding companies, large and small, should focus on?
In my opinion yes, while we can go to career fairs and provide fantastic opportunities to start in the company we need to actively start encouraging students to consider construction and housebuilding. By getting involved in STEM we are helping encourage the enjoyment of the core subjects and linking them with our industry. Partnering with schools across the age range, helps to create a depth of talent to secure the skills and enthusiasm required for the future.
When did you start to have interest in working in the new homes industry and what’s it like at Taylor Wimpey?
During my undergrad degree I had the opportunity to meet a civil engineer that worked in a housebuilding company. The following summer between third and fourth year I got to experience two weeks with Taylor Wimpey West Scotland. From that point forward Taylor Wimpey was where I was determined I wanted to work. They are a very friendly company that invests in their employees and their futures. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in projects creating different and unique challenges that differ to everyday work.
Studying aside, is there any advice about considering a career in housebuilding that you’d like to pass on to young people?
Research the different avenues of entry. There are programmes in place for all levels; from young school leavers through to uni graduates and everything in between. Find out the different opportunities that exist with different companies and make an application. Familiarising yourself with the projects and sites helps to show you have an interest in the company. And finally, just go for it, it is fun, exciting and I couldn’t have chosen a better career or company to work for.