Constructing youth opportunities

 We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

We are at that time of year when school halls are filled with pupils opening envelopes to greater or lesser degrees of joy and relief, as they receive their A level and GCSE results. Many of those school pupils have a clear idea of what they want to do with their lives, and fair play to them, I certainly didn’t at that age. Others will be heading of the university, college or sixth forms, to continue their studies or to try and work out where their interests and opportunities lie.

So, it’s an opportune moment to have another shout out about a truly great initiative that the merchant and manufacturer supply chain has spent two years working together on.

The Maddie Rose Campaign, organised under the umbrella of the Construction Youth Trust, but driven by our industry, seeks to highlight the very many career opportunities in this sector.  The CYT is a charity that supports young people to achieve their full career potential in the construction and built environment sectors. Its aim is to help young people recognise their potential and discover opportunities that have never previously been presented to them.

Why have those opportunities never been presented? Mainly its because this industry isn’t very good at shouting its benefits to the wider world. All too often, as we all know, merchanting and manufacturing gets lumped together under Construction. The general public – and in this context I mean school pupils, their teachers, career advisors and parents – tends to think of construction as huge sites towered over by cranes, and populated by hard hat and hi-vis-wearing individuals, who are either ‘architect’ or ‘builder’. Or, they think of the little building company that came round to do their loft extension, Dan in his van with his mate George who took five sugars in his tea and ate all the good biscuits. As an aside, my children couldn’t stop talking about Alex the electrician, who wore boxer shorts with chickens on them which they could see peeking out of the top of his jeans.

We all know that there is so much more to careers in the building materials sector, both on the merchanting side and the supplier side, we just need to get that message out there. One of the best ways of doing that is by getting out there and talking to people, to schools, to parents, to young people themselves. It’s this sort of interaction that the Maddie Rose Campaign was set up to promote. It has a range of initiatives from help with offering work experience, and setting up apprenticeships, to attending school careers events and running practical projects to get young people engaged with the sector.

Now is a fantastic time to get involved with your local schools. Get in there and talk to them. Next time you hold a family day to promote your branch, why not have a stall set up to talk about jobs you might have? We all know people who’ve gone a very long way in this sector by starting in the yard on a Saturday morning. Young people need to know their career options are as varied and exciting as they are. The industry needs new people to keep it going. We just need to get the two sides together.

As a heads-up, the second phase of the Campaign kicks off later next month, spearheaded, as last year, by a day when we are calling on everyone in this industry to Go Yellow for MaddiesDay. Change your logo colour for the day, wear something yellow, flood your social media with images of yellow and rise the Campaign’s profile and a smile. I’ve got my new yellow T-shirt ready. MaddiesDay is September 22, the day after the BMF Members Day Conference & Awards, so throw something yellow into the suitcase, and join in.

Oh sure, there are other campaigns which serve to highlight careers in this sector. But let’s not forget, that the Maddie Rose Campaign is different. This is our campaign, set up to honour the memory of one of our own. Maddie worked on both sides of the industry, in manufacturing and in merchanting. What better way to build her legacy than to help others to go further on the path she started down?

Check out the website, get involved, and rifle through your cupboard in preparation for Maddies Day on September 22.

All the best people are supporting the campaign….


About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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