Leading property, residential, construction and services group, Kier, has achieved great success helping young people into careers through apprenticeships for many years. Now the organisation is looking to take the next step to broaden its apprenticeship outreach and inspire talented individuals from underrepresented groups into apprenticeships in the industry.
Offering over 30 different types of apprenticeships across the business, Kier has always been keen to highlight the breadth of roles in and routes into the construction industry. With plans to continue to increase its apprenticeship offering and intake, the organisation is now focusing on challenging misconceptions around the industry and working towards creating a diverse and inclusive workforce.
Katie Nightingale, group early careers manager at Kier, says: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to find talent and grow a diverse workforce. At Kier we know that diversity aids success and we’re continually looking at how we can improve the composition of our workforce. We’re committed to promoting diversity not only within our business, but across our supply chain also, and we believe apprenticeships are the best platform for this.”
Having outlined a commitment to diversifying its workforce and holding a desire to work collaboratively, joining the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN) was a natural fit for Kier.
As Katie explains: “As a business, we want to proactively reach out to underrepresented groups and by working with other employers and the ADCN we’re confident we can achieve that.”
Through the ADCN, Kier has pledged to engage with underrepresented groups – focusing on those from deprived areas, women, and those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, as well as those with disabilities. To achieve this, the business plans to speak with students across the UK and talk about the variety of careers available in the industry, with a further commitment of visiting schools and colleges in deprived areas.
Equally, Kier is increasing the number and diversity of its construction and STEM ambassadors. Katie elaborates: “We want to empower colleagues to go out and speak to people about our business and the opportunities available. By ensuring we have a wider pool of ambassadors from an array of backgrounds, we hope we can better resonate with individuals from our target groups and demonstrate that this is a path and an industry for them.”
Kier is also taking its collaborative efforts that step further. Kier is currently working with Build UK, the leading representative organisation for the UK construction industry, and other industry peers to create a range of materials designed to encourage a more diverse mix of talented people into the sector. Katie explains: “Our pledges have provided us with a clearer focus and by working with our industry colleagues we can change misconceptions about the sector.”
The business has already started to feel some of the effects of its diversity outreach. Katie points to some anecdotal successes, saying: “We’re working with some apprentices in conjunction with a client in the social housing sector and together they bring a real mix of talent to the table.”
While Kier acknowledges there is a still work to be done, it feels confident that its work with ADCN and industry peers will help the business as it works towards its long-term objective of creating a more diverse workforce.
Estelle Palmer, 19-years-old and working on a NVQ Level 2 groundworker apprenticeship, comments: “I hadn’t thought about the construction industry as a career path until I noticed an extension being built at my college. I became really interested in how the groundworkers set out the new building, and the procedures that followed on from this. My interest grew, and after college I looked for an apprenticeship through Salutem training, who recommended me to Kier, where I have been for three months. I love the variety of my job, one day I’ll be laying drainage, and the next I’ll be blocking and beaming floors, road kerbs and edgings for slabs.”
NVQ Level 2 bricklaying apprentice Curtis Phipps, 17, says: “I have always had a passion for construction, and found a bricklaying apprenticeship on the Kier website. I am currently being trained by three professional trades people, and I really enjoy being part of the team. They keep me very busy, the tasks I complete daily really interest me and include cutting and laying bricks. Each week I go to the Salutem training centre to complete the theory side of my apprenticeship, I also have regular on-site reviews and assessments. I am enjoying my apprenticeship, I have learnt so much already and I look forward to becoming a qualified bricklayer.”
The National Apprenticeship Service
The National Apprenticeship Service supports the delivery of apprenticeships in England, offering free, impartial advice and support to employers looking to recruit for the first time or expand their apprenticeship workforce. Interested in finding out more about employing apprentices? Complete the online enquiry form on GOV.UK or call the National Apprenticeship Service on 08000 150 600.
Receiving your results this August?
The Exam Results Helpline is an official service especially set up by the National Career Service for those who have received their results and want to talk through their options. When you call, the Helpline’s careers advisers will chat through your situation and work with you to develop a plan. The Exam Results Helpline is a free service and will be open 8.00am to 10.00pm, seven days a week. It can be reached on 0800 100 900.