Telling a better story about our industry

September 7, 2017

* Post by Andrew Thorp

(Image above – Chartered Quantity Surveyor Emma Howarth, 5th from right, with other speakers at the #ICan event 17th July 2017)

There’s a saying that “perception is reality” and that’s a real problem when it comes to attracting young people into construction. Our industry has long been thought of as male-dominated and school children often associate it with words like ‘messy’ or ‘dangerous’. So, whenever we get an opportunity to set the record straight, we like to step up!

Our very own Emma Howarth did just that recently when she joined representatives from several employment sectors in speaking to Year 10 pupils at Alder Grange School in Rawtenstall, Lancashire. The careers event was designed to dispel some of the stereotypes associated with professions like Quantity Surveying, and Emma joined (amongst others) airline pilots, logistics trainers, an IT consultant, film director and a male nurse in explaining how their jobs were great options for both boys and girls.

Poole Dick employees have done great work in recent years to promote both our company and our industry to young people planning their future. I was delighted to learn that David Aldred, who joined us this summer for his university sandwich year, was convinced by Emma and a colleague during an earlier careers fair to switch his degree option from Geography to Quantity Surveying.

But what struck me as particularly impressive about the Alder Grange occasion was the way Emma presented her case, by telling her story in a personal way.

“I was conscious that our career is not glamorous or something children tend to aspire to,” she explained. “So, rather than talking about what we do I wanted to make the talk human and tell my story as a person, not as a surveyor.”

It seemed to pay off; Emma held their attention (never an easy thing with Year 10’s) and she noted that they, “laughed in the right places and applauded at the end!”

For the past 3 years or so we’ve been working as a team to show that things can be done a bit differently in our industry. We settled upon some unusual Core Values for our 2020 Vision, including ‘Share Knowledge’ and ‘World Class Communication’ and it was wonderful that Emma worked with colleagues in preparing her very personal pitch to the children.

She added, “I thoroughly enjoyed the event and it has given me the confidence to be able to stand in auditoriums and present in this way.”

We look forward to seeing others following Emma’s example!