Now available on All 4, Guy Martin has starred in a new, two-part miniseries with Wickes – Guy Martin: Building Britain – which examines the construction industry’s skills shortage. Our associate director, Jo Jones, watched the 10-minute episodes – so you don’t have to – and gives her thoughts on the programmes.
The miniseries saw Guy learn practical, construction skills onsite at a new housing development and on the site of the restoration of a Grade II listed building alongside new apprentices. I must admit, I was sceptical at first as I suspected the episodes might be dominated by Wickes promoting itself, but actually the emphasis was very much on building sites and trades. It was also very much supported by VIY (Volunteer It Yourself) and NACRO, increasing the credibility of the miniseries.
Guy worked alongside a group of new apprentices onsite, who had all come from a variety of different backgrounds – some who were more academically gifted than others and some who had fallen on the wrong side of the tracks and were looking to start afresh.
A phrase used quite a lot throughout was: ‘hard, mucky work’, which conjures up an outdated image of the industry and suggests that the only roles available are those you see onsite. This isn’t the case and we’re working hard to dispel this image and showcase that there is a wide variety of career opportunities – ranging from technical design to bricklaying.
Enthusiasm among the apprentices did vary, although there was an 18-year-old girl who was looking to train as a carpenter and another student who was hoping to become multi-disciplined in a number of trades, who were incredibly keen to learn and develop their skills which was really positive.
The programmes have reinforced the idea that it doesn’t matter what level of academic skill you possess, there really is a trade for you – whether that’s onsite or behind a desk. Apprentices train on the job, learning from experienced professionals who guide and support students through their studies, so your performance at school doesn’t have as much of a bearing.
A competition run for International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) this year asked students: ‘what does an engineer look like?’; promoting the idea that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the type of person we look for in the industry – there’s room for everyone. Charu Gupta, one of our sustainability experts, discusses her daughter’s drawing of an engineer here.
At BSD, we’re keen to support apprentices and, whether you’re a business or college/university looking to find out more about the apprenticeship levy or a student wanting to embark on a new challenge or find out more about the new degree apprenticeships, get in touch with Sam Duell at our Kettering office: firstname.lastname@example.org or 01536 403304.