Leaders from construction, academia and recruitment joined forces on the 24th June to launch ‘I Built It’ — a collaborative initiative set up to help address the significant skills shortage facing the West Midlands’ construction industry and to promote the diverse range of career opportunities available throughout the region.
Founded by The Building Alliance, Birmingham City University, recruiters Reed and multi-disciplinary consultancy, Acivico Group, I Built It will comprise a networking, recruitment and training portal, which aims to facilitate the recruitment and training of talented individuals to the industry.
Free to access, I Built It will include information about jobs, apprenticeships and work placement opportunities, training and professional development courses, and industry news. It will also showcase the diverse range of career roles available.
Mike Leonard of The Building Alliance said: “Construction has a vital role to play in the growth of the West Midlands’ and wider UK economy, and it is vital that we persuade talented individuals of all ages and backgrounds to join the industry.
“The UK construction industry needs to recruit at least one million people over the next 15 years in roles ranging from bricklayers and site managers through to sustainability consultants, planners, lorry drivers and architects. By bringing together education, employers, students and construction professionals for the first time we hope to play a key role in facilitating this process while helping people to find rewarding, long-term career opportunities.”
The views of the next generation
Aqib Aftab works as a Quantity Surveyor at Acivico Group. He is now working towards obtaining Chartered status through the RICS. Aqib said: “Many people think a career in construction means you have to be a bricklayer or a plasterer. Like many people, I did not understand the different roles which construction entails such as Clerk of Works and Employers Agent. Fortunately, a family member, who works as an architect, explained to me that there are a wide range of career options and helped me make the decision to become a Quantity Surveyor. A few years later I graduated from Birmingham City University in Quantity Surveying with a First Class Honours.
“I joined Acivico Group in 2019 as a Quantity Surveyor. I’m now working on prestigious projects such as HS2 and many other influential schemes in the region and love the fact that in 20 years’ time I’ll be able to look back at some of the buildings and infrastructure in the city and think I helped to build that.”
Callistus Gero, PhD Researcher at Birmingham City University, commented: “I have received enormous support from both staff and fellow researchers in conducting my work in a collaborative environment. My research also involves collaborating with UK house developers; that has helped anchor my research with current industry practice. I hope to take the skills and knowledge I have obtained to Energy and Sustainability Consultancy practices that specialise in Energy Assessments, SAP calculations, renewable energy, Embodied Carbon and related Sustainability issues. I would hope to see the construction industry more actively engaged in leading other sectors in the current sustainability agenda.”
Tom Hemmings, Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Acivico said: “I’ve been interested in construction since an early age. I used to help my Dad renovating the homes we lived in which gave me a desire to get involved in the industry. Originally, I trained as a Civil Engineer and, after graduating, I worked in sales for a construction products company. Increasingly though I found I wanted to be much more involved with projects the business was supplying. We worked a lot with Quantity Surveyors and what appealed to me about their role is that they’re involved at every stage of a project from initial concepts through to the final handover.
“I’m now working as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Acivico Group and thanks to their encouragement, began a master’s degree in quantity surveying at Birmingham City University 18 months ago. I’m able to take the course on day release, so it fits around my work, and my dissertation will be in Sustainability in School Construction. I’m really enjoying the role and am motivated by the thought that the work that I’m doing now is leaving a lasting legacy for communities throughout Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region.”
Mohamed Barre, PhD Researcher, Birmingham City University added: “Despite most of my time in research obstructed by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the transition from face-to-face to online support from BCU was so quick and effective that it enabled my research to maintain uninterrupted quality and remain on schedule.
“After research, my goal is to contribute to the industry in terms of environmental areas and raise awareness about the health consequences of indoor environments in buildings. Staying in academia is another goal, as I would like to share expertise and experience with upcoming researchers. Global warming and climate change affect every aspect of our lives. Therefore, the construction industry should incorporate environmental adaptation as core principles, rather than just economically driven or complying with regulations. In order to achieve these goals, the change we need is collaborations and interconnectedness between different actors in the construction industry.”
For more information about I Built It and to join the West Midlands Construction network, visit www.ibuiltit.co.uk.
Pictured above are Aqib Aftab, Rob Russell, Sharon Kerby, Tom Hemmings, Chris Hall, Callistus Gero, Julian Beer, Mike Leonard and Mohamed Barreat the I BUILT IT Launch.