When opportunity knocks: Encouraging young people to embrace a career in construction

by | Oct 5, 2022

CIF Director of Safety and Training Dermot Carey on attracting talent into the industry and a new €1,000 student prize aimed at encouraging young people to embrace a career in construction

International recruitment remains one arm of our focus in driving skills and talent within the industry. Some of our most recent campaigns have taken place in Manchester and Greece, where we are working on expanding into Athens.

In this coming quarter we will also be running recruitment drives in South Africa. The most sustainable and major focus for recruitment, however, is to do so domestically and attract young people in Ireland to pursue careers in the industry.

Worldskills and Higher Options are just two examples that have been hosted in the last month alone, to do just that. We have also taken a new approach this year by offering Safe Pass programmes for free to Transition Year and Leaving Cert Applied students.

This started in September and will be running in schools throughout the country to introduce students to the industry and to engage their interests.

Secondly, it facilitates a more favourable position for them to join the industry when work experience comes along, or even for seasonal work between terms.

To further incentivise students, this year we are running a competition with a €1,000 prize for the student that creates the best video exemplifying their experience working in the industry through work experience. The time is ripe for the industry to be proactive in offering opportunities to schools.

The CIF has listened to members’ concerns about recruitment in the country, we have identified a strategy, and initiated a plan of action to address these concerns.

It is up to members to seize the opportunities in recruitment that we have worked to deliver. These students are required to undertake work experience throughout the year, so members ought to offer places to support skills supply in the future.

CIF Director of Safety and Training Dermot Carey speaking earlier in the year at the CIF’s International Women’s Day event

Construction’s carpe diem

Looking forward, there is a lot to be positive about. Our members have identified skills gaps and we are seeing Educational Training Boards across the country offer fully-funded training for the industry in response.

There is great engagement and a pipeline of funding for future training that members would do well to act on. For years we have called on the Government to better engage with the training and recruitment needs of the industry and we are seeing that now.

So it is time for the industry to step up and seize this opportunity to prove that we can be trusted to collaborate in good faith with government.

The industry is currently busy, having come out of lockdown with a surplus of work to be completed, which understandably means engagement with some training organisations is low.

I would implore our members, contractors across the industry, to improve in that regard.

Funding is there, programmes are there and the vote of confidence for the industry to engage with these supports needs to acted upon. These courses are short, usually blended learning and often free to upskill.

Introducing construction career options to the next generation of talent will be vital to the success of the industry

National Training Fund surplus

There is a surplus of funding available, over a billion euro in the National Training Fund, so we would like to see much of that go to supporting our industry.

In order to realise this, we need members to identify the skills gaps, and subsequently we need to see the industry subscribe to those training courses.

Since 2014, the CIF has been focusing a lot of effort in the training and recruitment sphere, listening to members in order to identify to government the areas that would benefit from training infrastructure.

Almost a decade of persistent communication, and now in recent years, we are seeing action to ensure there is a pipeline of appropriately talented people. There is a commitment from government to engage with the industry.

At all times I would encourage members to pick up the phone and contact the CIF, your local representative or myself, to tell us what skills shortages you can see on the ground.

Ultimately, our role is to be facilitators for our members to ensure there is a pipeline of infrastructure to support the industry. We have the links to address the needs you raise, but we need you to raise them first.

If I can leave a parting thought it is to be positive – especially with regards to schools. Work experience in schools can be one of the surest ways of building a sustainable future supply of skilled people into the industry, which we definitely need.

So, when a school contacts you with an opportunity, be positive. Better yet, be proactive and contact your local schools to offer placements. Your business, and the industry, will be all the better for it.

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