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At the time of writing this, the world has become quite a worrying place and there cannot be many of us who haven’t wondered what the future holds. Such periods of uncertainty often provoke a spot of personal reflection, comparing the world as it was to how it is now. In particular, we compare the starts of our careers to those of young people starting out in the construction industry today. So much seems to have changed.
At Corporate Architecture we believe that a blend of age and experience combined with youth and limited experience is what makes our practice successful. We are committed to supporting individuals to gain and expand their professional qualifications through both Further and Higher Education and are longstanding supporters of the Apprenticeship programme. We are involved with other initiatives to develop young people such as the BrightER Futures programme run jointly between Eileen Richards Recruitment and De Montfort University; we regularly take young people of school age for work experience placements and for taster sessions to give them a sense and flavour of the range of opportunities in construction; we have a member of staff delivering course content on BTEC courses at a local FE college and staff members are also part of ProCon’s own Emerging Talent initiative.
Such frameworks and pathways are all essential components for development but there also needs to be a work context which excites and interests our trainees and which makes them want to learn more so that they can do more. We are very fortunate to work across a broad range of sectors and projects and our Apprentices and students are included, from the start, in project teams. They are already picking up tasks for a variety of clients including an international luxury retail brand supplying domestic appliances who have outlets all around the world, care homes with varied needs from general care to high care dementia, heritage projects where conservation and attention to historic detail are key issues; high quality hotels and office buildings. Carefully supervised, they come out on surveys, draw up plans, make alterations, research materials and contribute to project team meetings with ideas of their own. They have the opportunity to gain experience from our wide portfolio and we have seen some excellent ideas for materials, design features and construction ideas from our youngest Apprentices.
We also feel it is vital that our trainees understand the importance of proper professional communication and how to build lasting and positive relationships with stakeholders. They come to meetings with clients and contractors and are encouraged to mix their generation’s tendency to communicate through technology with the more traditional phone call or face to face meeting. It is in instances like this that both older and younger employees can learn much from one another.
We are also keen that they understand the importance and value of professional behaviour and they are learning, for example, that some clients take more confidence from a collar and tie than a hoody and trainers - and vice versa. We take our younger staff to events so that they can enjoy the social side of the industry whilst remembering that they are on duty and representing their company. They can mix with colleagues from other businesses and start to build their own networks. We also encourage them to contribute ideas towards our community activities. It is an important lesson for them to understand that, as a profitable business, we can, and should, be doing our bit to help others.
All this is, of course, time consuming but our approach has been validated by what our former trainees are now doing. Of those that have remained with the practice, some who began as Apprentices are now in positions of responsibility, managing high value projects, some internationally working across time and language barriers. They regularly represent the practice to clients, contractors and other partners. They are also in position to share their very recent learning with new trainees.
Some are building up confidence and experience in taking the lead on smaller projects and managing junior staff on their team.
Less experienced staff are building up their skills by increasing their contribution to individual projects such a luxury hotel, housing developments and. They are continuing their professional development at college or at university and bringing fresh ideas from their courses to the practice.
Their interests and knowledge of contemporary issues is a massive bonus. Their day to day experience is informed by current topics – environment, equality, sustainability – all things that were not on the curriculum at school but yet are standard fare today. They bring ideas and angles to discussions which might need shaping and forming but are of great value to the team. Their conversation is enlivening and prevents the work environment from falling into that trap of longstanding familiarity and dull routine. We trade the opportunity to work on a building of historic significance for the latest trends in popular culture.
At a time of real uncertainty, it’s good to be able to do something positive and, provided the talents and enthusiasm of the next generation are grasped and developed, the industry will survive and thrive. Those of us with several years on the clock have much to offer and a responsibility to see that our experiences are used to support Apprentices, students, trainees of any age. We are good at what we do, we should acknowledge that and share it with those who are coming up behind us. That way we can be confident that what comes next will be as good, if not better, than we left behind.
Established in 1983 Corporate Architecture Ltd is an award winning Chartered Architects practice. With over 25 years’ experience, we thrive on working on a variety of projects from small domestic extensions to multi-million pound developments throughout the UK and abroad.
With offices in Leicester and London, Corporate Architecture offers a wide range of services from initial concept design, through to planning, building and completion. We have the in-house skills and expertise to undertake complete project management or to work with our client’s in any specific area they need.
Our motivation is reaching, satisfying and, ideally, exceeding our client’s expectations. We do this by delivering a service that is second to none. Our work is thorough and thoughtful with design described by high quality drawings that practically and stylishly meet our client’s needs. We pride ourselves on our ability to solve design problems in a creative and innovative way. From design through to completion we work in partnership with our clients – taking their ideals and aspirations and turning them into reality.
ProCon Leicestershire Limited
47 Westview Avenue, Glen Parva, Leicester. LE2 9JU. Company number: 5420643