Mark Rayfield, CEO of Jewson discusses the Department for Work and Pensions See Potential campaign and its relevance to the construction industry.
With an estimated 1.65 million people in the UK currently unemployed, it seems absurd that one of the construction industry’s biggest challenges is the lack of skilled men and women available to make up trade workforces.
While there are a number of social barriers that make it difficult to kick-start a career, the breadth of opportunities available in the construction industry present many prospects of employment for those out of work.
For the long-term unemployed, ex-offenders and other less advantaged groups in our local communities, getting a job can be even harder. That’s why we’re supporting See Potential, a Government initiative set up to change lives through employment and help people get into work.
The scheme, launched by the Department for Work and Pensions, encourages companies to tap into the skills of these less advantaged groups for a mutually beneficial way of working. Research carried out by Business in the Community (BITC) suggests there is a direct, positive financial impact to this kind of open recruitment, and 90 per cent of inclusive employers surveyed also saw an improvement in employee engagement and performance.
Jewson recognises how important diversity is, and shares the same inclusive values as See Potential. Our existing partnership with national charity Street League is one of many initiatives we have in place to help people make the most of their skills and get into work. This year alone, we’re creating 300 opportunities for Street League participants at Jewson branches across the UK. This is a chance for 16-24 year olds to develop the key skills that employers want, and prepare themselves for the world of work.
In addition to creating these opportunities, we want to celebrate success and give credit where it’s due. With our Young Tradesperson of the Year competition, we recognised the hard work of young people working in construction trades, and rewarded them for their commitment to the profession. These individuals are a credit to the construction industry; their dedication is helping to combat the negative perceptions and outdated stereotypes that many people, unfortunately, still have.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has also pledged its support for the See Potential scheme, alongside big names like Sir Richard Branson and Simon Cowell. We want to encourage our suppliers and customers to get involved with the scheme and reap the benefits that being an inclusive business can offer.