Skills gap

Cranes, London, Skills gap, women in construction

BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour


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So I won’t pretend I knew much about Woman’s hour prior to receiving a phone call about it but did I want to appear on BBC radio with a group of legendary Women in construction…………….. Hell yeah!

When explaining to my Dad that I had been invited to the show he was really happy as when my Nana was alive she always listened to it, I guess this gave me even more of a boost to take part.

It was an bank holiday special dedicated to women in construction and I was privileged to take part with some fabulous women

  • Roma Agrawal MBE– Author of Built and a structural engineer who worked on the Shard.  
  • Cristina Lanz-Azcarate – Chair, London South East NAWIC (National Association of Women in Construction).  Also an architect!
  • Hattie Hasan – Plumber and founder of Stopcocks Women Plumbers.
  • Sarah Fenton – Partnerships Director Midlands and North, CITB
  • Lynsey Davies – Plasterer from Wales who is now training to be a quantity surveyor

We were all interviewed by Tina Daheley who was fabulous and genuinely really engaged.

With Tina Daheley

It was a brilliant thing to take part in and there was such a positive vibe from everyone – super inspirational! I don’t believe I have been in such a room discussing matters of women working in construction where the main vibe was just positivity , we all spoke about our journeys into the industry, what we would tell people wanting the join the industry and some genuine giggles about things we have overcome.

I truly believe the podcast is worth a listen, it will be uploaded here – https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0007wsf

A sound bite posted on Twitter that didn’t make the final broadcast – https://twitter.com/BBCWomansHour/status/1165937402839478272/video/1

They say never meet your Idols but Roma was just as brilliant in person
Roma, Christina & Me outside broadcasting house
Apprenticeship, London, Skills gap

Three Years Of Progress – Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Task Force


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Recently I attended the Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce Annual report – Three years of progress event. 

This was my third year on the board, I joined the board as a Crossrail apprentice when I worked at Tottenham Court Road and I have been a board member since. Our main objective is to get more apprentices into transport.

You may read the third report and previous reports here- https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/strategic-transport-apprenticeship-taskforce

The event was hosted by the brilliant Mike Brown who sits also as the chair of STAT.

I was fortunate enough to chair a panel of 4 brilliant apprentices 

Cameron O’Connell

Kimiah(Kimmy) Hibbert-Motaghedi

Catriona Kilgour

Jarrell Anthony

Who spoke about their experience of apprenticeships and what changes we can make for all, it was very thought provoking for all in the room.

We were followed by the brilliant Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE who as well as many other things is the Lord – Lieutenant if Greater London, he shared some brilliant thoughts on apprenticeships and social justice. 

A great event to celebrate the panels third year of progress towards more apprenticeships in transport.

Skills gap

Why we need on site representation!


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Because we don’t have any…………..the end.

Ok not done just yet, but how many events and panels and speakers do you see covering construction but how rarely do we see someone from site, I am not talking about your project managers, your engineers, your architects, I am speaking about workers from the ground level – your carpenters, bricklayers, ground workers, pilers, labourers you just don’t see them.

We spend so long talking about the problems of attraction, retention, diversity in the industry but rarely to we show a full representation of the industry, how can we fix the problems effecting the whole industry if we don’t ask the industry as a whole.

I think I saw just how important this was last week where I was the site representation, I sat on a panel with two CEO’s & a Director discussing inclusivity within the industry. At first I read the line up and really couldn’t see how I might fit in but once on the panel I saw just how important it is to have site representation on a panel, I was the only one with on site experience, I was the only one discussing problems for people working on site and why we are losing people and struggling to recruit people from this level. The feed back I received was great and it impacted why having an on site representative is massively important.

We need to stand up and talk about the issues as we see them, we need to ask the hard questions, only by doing this things will we change the industry for the future and truly change what it means to work on site.

Recently I attended a fabulous event about inspiring change within the industry and saw a host of speakers talking about what we need to change and grow on in the industry to recruit the future. One well known large construction company CEO was there discussing all the things they have going on within the company and what they are doing to change up the industry but one thing for me was missing, the on site aspect so I thought hard about a question and I asked it

“How are we suppose to inspire the next generation into an industry that currently gets up at 5am works till 6/7/8pm and does sometimes an expected 6 days a week, what is your company currently doing to make things better for people on site”

Needless to say I felt completely fobbed off by the answer and was told something around the area of to email my CEO if I need to leave work early.

If we boast about about things like flexible working within our companies are we following it through to the whole of company? So many schemes stop just before they hit site, the great agenda’s and changes put in place at higher levels rarely make it that far down the chain.

Do people on site not deserve the opportunity to have the same work/ life balance as people who work in offices? Do they not have family commitments that matter? Are they not also part of the wider picture, part of the same company?

We moan about the lack of people working within our industry, the lack of interest from schools in our industry, we are coming up against a huge skills shortage a massive lack of people wanting to take up the tools but we are not willing to change how we currently to things to make this industry far far more attractive to the next generation!

If we cannot get the basics right we will always be on the back foot, always scrapping around for people and always losing the great people we already have because currently we are massively unaccommodating and inflexible.

I am looking to set up a database on my website for site representatives who would like to get involved in speaking at events, schools etc so people can find you. If you are interested please drop me a message – Website is www.katiecranes.com

Please also keep an eye out for the Laing O’Rourke Energy project, we are currently trialing it with Tower Crane operators and so far the feedback has been great!

Apprenticeship, Skills gap, women in construction

Only 7% Of Teenagers want to join industry…………..


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Hardly surprising news,

”The lack of diversity in the industry is putting young people off from wanting to join the sector, increasing concerns about the problem of labour and skills shortages in the future, the firm said.”

Shocker! I have said it a million times if young people google our industry or go to interviews and never see anyone like them why on hell would they want to work here? If you can’t see someone like you excelling through the industry you can’t envision your own future.

When I went to my first interview it was all men, all the other interviewees were men, all the interviewers were men – if I was younger or this was one of my first interviews I would never have chosen this industry.

And we haven’t even started on the expected hours, modern day sectors are flexible and accommodating for workers – unfortunately the construction industry is yet to catch up, why would someone choose construction? what are our USP’s to the next generation?

We can’t even hold on to the ones that do make it through the wire – the only 0.7% of women working in trades or in plant this number hasn’t changed in 30 years, we are hemorrhaging talent throughout the process for various reasons.