6 Strategic Considerations
In light of the forces discussed in the previous section, any future strategy to recruit building standards professionals must take into account the considerations below.
The career engagement strategy based on this report lists the relevant stakeholders that will need to be engaged in order to meet the objectives of the strategy. Some stakeholders share the same interests and considerations.
No one action, or actor, will bring about the changes needed to fulfil the objectives of the strategy. Its success hinges on collective action and cooperation, with all parties working towards a common goal.
6.1 Inside track
Engagement between LABSS, the Building Standards Division and SDS
LABSS and BSD have already engaged with SDS on the proposed development of a GA and in developing career pathways. This relationship should be capitalised on to ensure relevant, up to date and targeted information is available on building standards careers. Further activities, which will be necessary to reach young people include:
- Making use of the MyWoW website and My Kids Career, with bespoke job profiles of those working in building standards, including Graduate/Trainee roles. This would need to be developed in partnership between BSD and SDS
- Equipping careers advisors with the necessary tools to engage young people. This research has shown that, apart from websites which young people can access themselves, and open days, other valued resources include:
- One-to-one coaching provided at school/college/university (49%)
- Posters, leaflets and booklets (35%)
The opportunity should be taken to engage directly with careers advisers to equip them with tailored information to impart to young people in a face-to-face capacity. An efficient way of delivering this would be via a webinar or similar online method that advisors could access at their convenience. Leaflets and posters are also useful vehicles for communicating headline messages, when displayed in careers offices.
Local Authority Building Standards and Colleges/Universities
There are multiple drivers necessitating good relationships between LABSS and colleges and universities; this is underscored by the proposed roll-out of the Graduate Apprenticeship (GA). The benefit of these relationships is borne out by the successes of some LAs in securing graduate entrants via close working with local universities. Indeed, one LA interviewed confirmed working together closely with their local university's school of architecture and built environment, successfully promoting graduate roles within the LA's Building Standards Department. Major selling points include a career in the public sector and a competitive entry salary above industry average.
At a more fundamental level, engagement between LAs and local learning providers is good practice for ensuring the relevance of the skills and knowledge delivered on vocational and technical courses (e.g. HNC/D) which provide a route into building standards.
A third element is direct promotion of building standards careers, to those working within Colleges and Universities who influence young people's career decisions. These influencers not only include careers advisers, but also those in teaching and tutoring roles. This is important in consideration of the evidence gathered from the survey of young people that they are most interested in studying subjects that are closely aligned to a specific career (Figure 19). Those studying relevant construction-related courses (e.g. surveying, architecture/architectural technology, construction management) must therefore be made aware that the prospects available to them include a career in building standards.
The increasing focus on technology within building standards, and various opportunities to specialise (dependent on the LA) in diverse areas such as modern building technologies, fire engineering, renewable energy may help to attract more young people to the profession and should therefore be promoted.
Capacity building within Local Authorities
Attracting young people into LAs will require concerted activity and commitment by local Building Standards Departments in a number of ways.
Providing work experience/placements for young people should be encouraged by all LAs to provide insight and understanding to young people about a role in building standards. Although some LAs already offer work experience opportunities, a formal offer should be standardised across the 32 LAs. This may require capacity building within LAs to develop structured activities for the young person to undertake, as well as ensuring mentoring and monitoring.
Existing public sector models could be emulated. For example, NHS Grampian has in place a structured work placement scheme for young people interested in a career in medicine. Application forms for the scheme are issued to all LA work experience units for them to distribute to their local schools and to guidance staff in independent schools. A similar model for building standards should be considered, which would likely require central coordination from the Building Standards Division on behalf of Building Standards Departments. Direct exposure to the profession will help young people understand the interesting and varied nature of building standards roles.
Local Authority Building Standards and Schools
Some LAs already engage directly with local schools. Work experience is a typical form of engagement where relationships between LAs and schools exist, however this is usually targeted at older pupils (e.g. 16-18 and those on college and university courses).
The DYW Career Education Standard, targeted at 3-18 year olds highlights the importance of engaging children at a young age - a factor that was reiterated during stakeholder interviews for this research which emphasised the importance to engaging with primary-aged children. Indeed, the survey of young people illustrates that females, in particular, should be targeted at a younger age than males, due to the lower uptake amongst females of the sort of technical courses providing a route building standards careers.
Face-to-face interactions within schools - via industry talks - are a highly valuable mechanism for promoting careers and sparking young peoples' interest. These interactions would be best handled centrally, using a similar model to the work placement example given above.
A network of 'Building Standards Ambassadors' should be recruited to perform this role, targeting primary schools in the longer term. However, given the urgency of the recruitment challenge for LAs, priority should be given to engaging directly with secondary schools, colleges and universities to engage with those closer to employment age.
6.2 Outside track
Engaging with parents
This research has found that from a range of sources of careers information and guidance, parents have most influence on young peoples' decisions (59% of young people responding to the survey indicated so), followed by 'talking with friends/other family members/guardian/carer' (58%).
Parent groups are an obvious route for engagement, such as the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NFPS), and at a local level, engagement between individual LA Building Standards Departments and Parent Councils: the NFPS has 33 local representatives. Schools seek the views of Parent Councils on various matters, including careers.
Overcoming barriers to engagement
Young people come from all backgrounds. Some experience barriers to education and training, and to employment. Consideration should be given to these barriers in attracting a diverse and suitably skilled workforce.
- The use of multiple forms of communication is necessary to reach the widest possible audience. Cost effective ways may include social media, websites, local newspapers (particularly delivered electronically and via apps) and through promotion to community groups, and young groups. This is also a consideration for reaching the influencers of young people, including family and friends.
- Consideration should be given to cultural sensitivity and flexibility tailored to the cultural and other social circumstances of young people from different backgrounds.
- Make use of the mediums that young people value and respond to, e.g. online tools. We know from this research that MyWoW for example is well-used by young people.
What young people want to know when considering careers
Young peoples' decisions about their future career are mostly influenced by:
- Available salary
- Opportunities for career progression
The majority of all age groups prioritise:
- Skills and knowledge requirements
- Career progression opportunities
- Working conditions
Both males and females seem to want broadly the same information - although their priorities may be very slightly different. Taking everything into account, salaries and the skills/qualifications-needed are most important.
The interest in building standards-related professions is mainly influenced by salary and career prospects, family influence among the age groups. Among males, this ranking still stands, while for females, the career prospects and family advice rank highest, followed by salary.