Are you passionate about the construction industry? Do you want to share your career experiences with others? Could you inspire the next generation to enter a role in construction?

The CIOB spoke to Alan Greenfield, a Construction Ambassador from Bristol. Alan is a business development manager for Clover Maintenance Ltd, and also a self-employed group development officer at Avon Construction Training Group.

How did you hear about the construction ambassador scheme?

I actually used to work at CITB, so I knew about this scheme from then and once I got into a construction career I was very keen to go on the course because I could see the benefits. It was my local CITB advisor who arranged it all for me and I started it in early spring 2017. The majority of construction ambassador work I do is with the training group, but I go into local schools with my Clover hat on too, which helps as I do work with a living breathing construction company!

How does the role work?

Once you’ve registered on the Go Construct website, you take a free one day training course, covering information on safeguarding, presentation skills and the wealth of resources available for young people.

We then receive invitations from CITB to go into schools and further education institutions, which we can either accept or decline.

During my time as an ambassador, I’ve found that once you make a connection with a local school, they’ll quite often contact you themselves and invite you in. The relationships with the teachers who organise the events are really important; the teachers are often the ones who students will go to when they ask for careers advice.

Part of the ambassador role is to direct people to the Go Construct website, which is a fantastic resource – it’s amazing. Go Construct is a central location to find out everything you want to know about the career opportunities in the industry. It makes my job as an ambassador very simple actually; if I’m asked a question at a careers event, I have my laptop open at the ready and say: “let’s have a look then, let’s see what a lightening conductor engineer does!”  It’s also a resource with up-to-date information and it’s great to show people that it’s there for their benefit, readily available.

What are the benefits to you?

For me, the best thing is seeing someone’s face light up with excitement when I tell them about the opportunities at their fingertips. Especially when they originally thought construction wasn’t for them.

I also really enjoy school talks, but particularly at an industry day where students get involved in a practical activity and start thinking – the room is bursting with excitement and opportunity.

I’ve developed my presentation skills, which has built up my confidence in my ability and communication skills. I’ve learnt how to read a room very well. When standing in front of a room of students, I gauge their eye contact and body language to adapt my approach and keep them engaged. It definitely keeps me on my toes!

I’m in my mid-50s and I’m still learning. I’m always improving my skills with this role.

What are the wider community benefits?

At school industry days, we do activities like building a bridge out of drinking straws. The activity brings in all the skills of a construction project, from management to design, and gives a taste of the exciting environment construction is. After a few minutes the room is buzzing; it’s a good team building activity.

I do mock interviews with young people who have decided they want to go into construction. This helps them prepare for future interviews, and I direct them to where they can find vacancies. I also give advice on what kind of roles there are to best suit their interests and skills. I build their confidence in their own ability and potential and explain the progression opportunities; they could run their own business or go into site management. I tell them to aim for the stars – as a career in construction is so fulfilling!

What would you say to someone thinking about signing up to the scheme?

If you’re passionate about the industry and want to spread the word about it; this is the role for you. I’m also giving something back, and encouraging the next generation into construction. I have the ability to change lives – if someone looks into it after speaking to me; I know that I’ve made a difference. I bumped into a parent I had met before at an open evening and she told me that her son had been inspired by Go Construct to become a carpenter. That kind of story really makes it worthwhile, and there’s one more skilled trainee for the industry!

It’s down to industry to show the next generation their potential, and inspire them into the industry.

The more ambassadors we have, the more chance we have of showcasing what they can achieve in construction.

Find out more about the Construction Ambassador scheme: Go Construct National Careers Week runs from 2 to 7 March 2020 and aims to promote the importance of good careers education in schools and colleges.

Apply to the Construction Ambassador Scheme.