Nina Hughes, who is a Community Investment Advisor at Wates Group, shares why she first got involved with Career Ready and the difference it has made to Wates as a business.
The main reason I signed up to volunteer with Career Ready was to open students’ eyes to the wide variety of roles available to them in our sector. I particularly wanted to break the stereotype of low pay.
I’ve found you can change students’ perceptions very quickly. One of the best moments for me was speaking to Daniella from Westminster Academy at the end of her internship at Wates. When she heard where her placement was going to be she thought she’d got a bad deal; at the end, she thought she’d got the best. And she said that in front of a Managing Director. Those things have a significant impact.
We have recruited a student in Manchester because of her internship experience and there are other students thinking about a career in our industry now that they have a wider understanding of the opportunities.
Because of where we are with the skills gap and Brexit you have a lot of people asking ‘what’s going to happen to our industry’? They are looking to get involved in something like mentoring. It’s developed my communication and interpersonal skills - you get both personal and professional development. I’ve found working with young people so inspiring. They’re so much more mature and self-aware after just one year.
Internships are key in creating a pipeline, we value our students who come and learn with us for four weeks. We make sure they feel part of the team and get to move around the business to find out about all the roles and routes available to them, it is no longer about photocopying and shadowing we make sure they are really part of the team. It is also such a great opportunity for staff to develop their communication and interpersonal skills. I couldn’t recommend it more.
The programme has also helped us build relationships with schools, which businesses find hard to do. Normally we only get to meet students at careers fairs. It’s also given teachers the chance to sit down with employers as members of the LAB and hear about job opportunities for students on their doorstep. Vanessa at the Crest Academy is holding a student and parents night around Think Build to help parents understand the opportunity and increase their support for students thinking of joining the building industry.