Steve Garton, sales manager at Bellway Thames Valley, talks to us about how the national housebuilder works with local schools and shows the pupils just how much work goes into constructing new homes.
There is wide agreement across the industry that to attract more people to it for a career, companies need to engage with young people long before they reach college and university.
Bellway is one of the UK’s largest housebuilders – recently reporting building more than 10,000 homes per year for the first time – and currently has a workforce of around 2,500 across the country.
How important is it for Bellway to interact with local schools?
With approximately 2.96million people employed in the construction industry today, getting children engaged in the grass roots of building new homes makes complete sense. We have had several sites close to junior schools and where we can, we have been into the schools and worked with the children to talk about what is happening – but even more importantly, to make them aware of construction traffic to keep them safe during the build.
What do the schools and pupils get out of it?
Young children are fascinated by diggers and machinery which makes it very easy to stimulate and engage them with what is happening on site. We have completed some wonderful projects; encouraging children to get creative and draw/paint pictures for competitions as well as inviting them to take part in planting on new developments and contribute to the design of hoarding.
To engage with older children Bellway has been involved in organising many sponsorships for school teams – football, netball, swimming and cricket teams have all been hugely popular. We are working with Wokingham Football club to sponsor the same age group as my son currently and we will be organising a game once the kit is sorted which will be fun.
What sort of reactions do you get from children and their parents?
The parents love it. Whether it is their five-year-old with a picture of a digger, a teenager with a new sports strip or some new equipment in the classrooms, the response has been fantastic. We endeavour to make the work we do fun and interesting for the kids, appealing for the parents and engaging for the schools. Community-based activity is a priority for us. Contributing to local schools is a wonderful way to connect with local families and offer support to a significant element of their neighbourhood.