The Learner Voice – Workplace mentoring scheme for students at NW Universities

The Construction Industry Council, CITB-ConstructionSkills and Higher Education
Academy are aiming to pilot a workplace mentoring scheme for students in
northwest England from January next year. A consortium of universities has
engaged in the scheme with the aim of matching students with professionals who
have been successful in the construction industry.

We are now looking for professionals in employment in the construction industry to
act as mentors. Mentors will need to have had at least two years’ experience
working in the construction industry in a graduate level role or similar. They must
also be willing to meet with one or more students and share their experiences of
working in the industry with them over the period of about 6 months.

Aled Williams, CIC regional chair, said: “Having people who are prepared to act as
mentors provides a great opportunity for a student and has the potential to make the
difficult transition from study to work both easier and more successful.”

Employers interested in joining the scheme should contact:
Aled Williams, (07720 968847)
or Roy Cavanagh MBE, (07803 022767)
We would be happy to have an informal discussion and if you are an interested employer we would be grateful if you could indicate:

  •  A link person
  •  Number of mentors that you are able to deploy
  •  Contact details of link person / mentor

To read more on this mentoring scheme please click the following link.

Thank you!

Fill in the AJ Women in Architecture survey 2013 and help redress the balance

This article was taken from the Architects Journal website and can seen in full by clicking the link – anyone can take the survey here.

Architects, technologists, clients and students, fill in this year’s AJ Women in Architecture survey before Christmas and help us track the evolving status of women in the profession.

This year’s survey is open to both men and women working in the built environment to track perceptions of equality, salary and flexible working.

The anonymous survey asks questions about career challenges and experiences working in architecture covering subjects such as sexual discrimination, childcare, work/life balance and pay.

Completed by nearly 700 women, last year’s survey revealed shocking findings and resulted in the instigation of three new honours for female architects.

The 2012 Women in Architecture survey showed that 47 per cent of women claimed men were paid more for the same work and almost two thirds believed the industry was yet to accept the authority of the female architect.

The survey forms part of the AJ Women in Architecture campaign and awards, sponsored by Roca, which aims to promote the status of women in architecture while encouraging role models for young women in practice.

The annual programme includes talks and events, a luncheon, an industry survey and three honours.

The next AJ Women in Architecture luncheon will be held on 22 March at the Langham Hotel, London, and AJ editor Christine Murray will be hosting a talk at the Roca Gallery for International Women’s Day on 8 March 2013.

The information provided by the survey will help to inform articles and research for both The AJ in print and online from January 2013.

Take the Survey.

Women help drive forward new business in ‘male world’ of maintenance

This article published by by for Knowsley Housing Trust and can accessed in full by clicking the link.

A duo of women managers who are helping to drive forward a new commercial repairs and maintenance company say others should consider careers in the industry.

Jo Whittingham and Kelly McConville work for Vivark in Merseyside, the newly launched commercial arm of The First Ark Group, and they say the pJo Whittingham and Kelly McConvilleerception of the industry as not welcoming for women is not always the case.

“The industry is primarily dominated by males but there is plenty of room for women,” said Jo.

“It is still primarily a male dominated sector, especially within the workforce, but has seen massive change over the years. If you’re passionate about it then go for it, it’s a fast paced and exciting industry to work in.”

Jo and Kelly have recently transferred to Vivark from other areas of the Group and are helping to develop the new enterprise.

Part of the First Ark group which also includes Knowsley Housing Trust, Vivark will provide repairs and maintenance to public and private markets across the North West, with a strong focus on social responsibility.


Construction new orders remain depressed

This article was taken from Construction Enquirer, click the link to read it in full.

New work orders edged up in the third quarter but remain at historically low levels, according to the latest official figures.

The small 5% rise in new work orders was down to a recovery in infrastructure work but still remained the third lowest on record.

Worryingly, commercial work fell 8% on the previous quarter, and is now only 31% of the peak level recorded in 2007.

Simon Rawlinson, Head of Strategic Research at EC Harris: “The increase masks a deep malaise in the commercial sector.

“Total new orders in the third quarter returned to the ‘new normal’ levels that have been seen in the industry since the beginning of 2011.

Well done Anna, now let’s have quotas

This article was written by our Managing Director, Chrissi McCarthy MCIOB and can be found on the Construction Manager website.

Whilst the news of Anna Stewart’s appointment as CEO at Laing O’Rourke from April 2013 will not be wholly unexpected to anyone familiar with the company, it is certainly to be welcomed, writes Chrissi McCarthy MCIOB. 

Especially in the light of the statistics regarding women on FTSE 100 boards, which show that while numbers have increased from 12.5% in two years up to 17.4%, the majority of these have been non-executive appointments, with only a 1.2% rise in executive roles.

Some papers have taken the notion that Stewart’s appointment will bring equality to the construction sector, but we should not be blindsided by such simplistic views. Whilst I have every confidence that she will make a fantastic CEO, putting the weight of industry diversity on her shoulders might be a little too much for anyone to deliver.

We should rejoice that there is a woman in a prominent boardroom position with an industry background (she is MRICS) at executive level. While there are a number of women in non-exec positions, exec positions in SME businesses or exec positions in HR roles, there are very few role models for women working in construction within large organisations. Which is why, if I was still a site manager, I know where I would be sending my CV.

Back to boards and Maria Miller, the minister for women and equalities, has announced that she thinks the proposed 40% quotas from Brussels are “dreadful” – but here’s why we disagree,

Yes, the majority of people I know are concerned about talk of quotas for women on boards. There is a worry that they will water down skills, give a leg up to people who don’t deserve it, and undermine the achievements of those that have worked their way up on their own.

I can understand how people got to that conclusion but my experience has shown that logic to be a little backward. Here’s why. I sit on a few boards, and talk to other women who sit on a few more, and we have found the same thing. Quite often in meetings when we are the only women present we make a point and people nod and move on. Then five minutes later someone else raises exactly the same point, word for word, and it is applauded. Worse, it is then minuted as the idea of the person who repeated it.

Usually I’m happy enough that the point was being considered but there are times I feel it’s important that my contribution is seen as mine. When I have voiced this, I have been told I probably didn’t speak loud enough, or wasn’t forthright or confident in my opinion. Problem is, no matter how loud, confident, forthright or downright rude I am, the outcome doesn’t often change.

But that’s not really the point. What I find interesting is that it has never happened to me on a mixed board, and it has never happened to any of the other women I spoke to on a mixed board either. Not once; not even a little bit.

And it makes me wonder why this happens.

When I’m the only woman on a board or in a meeting I do sometimes get conscious of that fact and have been known to wonder if I’m there as a token, even when I know I’m not. So if I’m thinking that, and I know the reasons why I am there – what might the rest of the group be thinking? It’s not unreasonable that the thought might have crossed their minds.

One is not enough

It seems to me that whenever there is just one of someone, we look at what they represent, not who they are. One women will always be a woman in a group of 11 men no matter what her reasons for getting to that position in the first place. It’s all about numbers.

If you have three women, no matter how they got there, they stop being women and start being members of a board. Once we achieve a critical mass tokenism stops being an issue and we start to take the opinions of all board members seriously.

In layman’s terms, a woman on her own will be perceived as a quota even when she is not. Conversely, a group of women will not be seen a quota even when they are.

Before we make the mistake of putting this down to good/bad, sexist/non-sexist people, in my experience, this is a subconscious action carried out by considerate, personable and usually supportive individuals.

We cannot overestimate the extent to which we behave subconsciously, and until we get our heads around that notion it is likely that we will not appreciate the skills of women on boards, we will fail to see the benefit in appointing more and we will undermine the achievements of those who got there on their own merit by ignoring their contribution. Exactly the things we are worried that quotas might do.

A ruling on workers’ right to leave when sick may have unintended consequences, says Nicola Powell

This article was taken from Construction Manager and can be read in full by clicking the link.

The question of a worker’s right to annual leave whilst on sickness absence has been a hot topic in recent years. A right to at least four weeks of paid annual leave is found in the European Working Time Directive (“the Directive”), and is implemented into UK national law under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (“the Regulations”).

Historically, case law (both domestic and European) has been inconsistent with legislation and confused the issue as to what extent workers hav

e the right to carry over holiday whilst on sick leave. However, the recent case of NHS v Larner has provided some clarification.

Mrs Larner was employed by NHS Leeds. She was on sickness absence between 2009 and 2011 during which time she did not take annual leave or ask to carry it forward. In April 2011 Mrs Larner was dismissed. NHS Leeds refused to pay her in lieu of her untaken 2009/2010 annual leave and she subsequently claimed for this entitlement under Article 7 of the Directive.

The Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) agreed that Mrs Larner had the right to carry forward her accrued annual leave to 2010/11 and to be paid in lieu of that untaken leave on termination of her employment. Notably, the EAT held that where an employee was unable to take paid leave due to sickness, that leave would carry forward to the next holiday year regardless of whether a request was made.

The EAT’s decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal which also suggested that, read in line with the Directive, the Regulations could be taken to apply to workers within the private sector. The result is that employers cannot avoid paying holiday for four weeks’ annual leave in the year prior to termination (which is the entitlement under the Directive).

Nicola Powell is a member of the employment team at IBB Solicitors.


Opinion: Osborne in the last chancellor saloon

This article was taken from Construction Enquirer, please click the link to read article in full.

The industry has no real option but to trust George Osborne when it comes to promises made in the Autumn Statement.

But his track record hardly inspires confidence following a series of previous spending announcements which have delivered very little on the ground for contractors.

The Chancellor is in danger of becoming the boy who cried wolf rather than a fiscal superhero rescuing the UK from its debt mountain.

Yesterday’s £5bn extra for infrastructure and schools sounds exactly the shot-in-the-arm the construction industry is crying out for.

But the same figure was trumpeted in 2011 with only £750m of that cash materialising during the last year.

Let’s hope that Osborne is serious this time as a rapidly approaching general election concentrates his mind on really stimulating the economy.

Osborne today put construction at the heart of the economic recovery

This article was taken from Construction Enquirer – click the link to read the full article.

Chancellor George Osborne put construction at the heart of the economic recovery today as he unveiled sickly growth figures in the Autumn Statement.


Downgraded figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility confirmed the economy will contract by 0.1% this year before growing by 1.2% in 2013, 2% in 2014 and 2.3% in 2015.

He described the statement as “fiscally neutral” with money shifted from current to capital spending.

Osborne confirmed an extra £5bn for capital investment funded by efficiency savings across Whitehall departments as annual infrastructure investment was increased to £33bn.

Osborne said: “The British economy is healing. There are no quick fixes but we are making progress and Britain is on the right track. Turning back now would be a disaster.

“We are confronting the country’s problems rather than ducking them.

“In everything we do we are helping those who want to work hard and get on.”

To read up on new spending proposals and information regarding the reforms of the PFI system please visit Construction Enquirer website.

Surrey Council launches “eBay” for subbies to bid for work

This article was taken from Construction Enquirer – click the link to read the full article.

Surrey County Council is launching an eBay style website for subcontractors to bid for work.

Morgan Sindall, Mansell and Osborne are helping the council with the BuildSurrey site which is due to go live in February.

Council chiefs insist that work with main contractors will be awarded on the basis of quality as well as price.

The BuildSurrey site will also act as an apprenticeship matching service – bringing businesses offering places together with potential candidates.

Surrey County Council deputy leader Peter Martin said: “In the current climate, we must do everything we can to support the local economy and our aim is to ensure 60% of the county council’s spending is with local businesses.

Chancellor to raise extra £5bn for construction projects – again


This article was taken from Construction Enquirer – click the link to read the full article.

George Osborne is planning to squeeze Whitehall current spending budgets again to raise an extra £5bn for capital projects.

The Chancellor will demand departmental savings of 1% next year and 2% in 2014/15 to raise extra cash for construction projects.

At least £1bn of this has been earmarked to build an extra 100 new free schools and academies, but the move raises hope that there will be extra cash for housing as well as transport schemes.

Construction leaders will be sceptical about the “new” money following a similar announcement in last year’s Autumn Statement.

The Government has launched two national infrastructure plans since coming to power in 2010, but construction spending has fallen 11% from a year ago and is expected to drop more in 2013.