Why it’s crucial to help the next construction generation

Last month, Helix Commercial Director David Jowett and Managing Director Nic Davies delivered an online guest lecture for the next generation of construction students at the University of Westminster. Here, David Jowett shares an update on how it went and how this fits with Helix Group’s broader plans.

Construction students have their eyes set on a vocational role. They are the next generation of a skilled workforce – but before they can add value to the industry, the industry has to help them along the way. 

This is absolutely something we are very passionate about at Helix. So when the chance arose to give a guest lecture to construction students at the University of Westminster, my colleague Nic Davies and I jumped at the chance – especially as we are both alumni of the university!

Industry insights

Our brief from Krystal Kay-Dyer, the Design and Development course leader at the university, was to talk with students to share industry insights. We focused on the role of an SME and how project challenges both before and during the construction phase are managed and overcome. 

Although COVID-19 restrictions meant this had to be a virtual session, it was really pleasing to hear from the students that they found what we were able to cover from our experiences really helpful. For them to see a young SME thriving through the pandemic really resonated with their ambitions. For those that wanted to start and grow a construction company, it showed them that it is possible – even in one of the most challenging economic environments in decades.

Employer of choice

In 2021, social value is driving our business plans. We want a more diverse Helix and to be the employer of choice for future generations. Connecting with the University of Westminster can help us do that. And providing prospects for students provides prospects for us all as we develop a skilled workforce.

From my point of view, I can’t think of a more important role for us as a people-focused business to be playing than this. It’s why I’m really pleased to be mentoring Oliver Pearce, our Management Trainee who Helix is supporting to study for his Quantity Surveying degree at the University of Westminster.

We want to continuing doing more to support the next generation of construction recruits. That’s why Nic and I are delighted that the guest lecture has gotten the ball rolling on what looks like a growing partnership between the university and Helix Group. Ian Cannings, Programme Leader in Undergraduate Construction Studies at the university, is now working with us to set up future field trips to Helix construction sites, demonstrating excellent collaboration between the construction industry and higher education.

As I mentioned, for me, giving this guest lecture at my former university feels like my story coming full circle. It also looks like the start of an exciting new part of my career – and hopefully that of many more construction students too!

David Jowett is Helix Commercial Director

Contact David Jowett or Nic Davies for more information on this article.