Auf Wiedersehen Pet sowed seeds for career in construction
Phil Eves, Social Sustainability Specialist at construction and property services company BAM, is passionate about skills and supporting young people to find fulfilling careers. In this Guest Column for Warwickshire Means Business, he outlines how his passion was shaped by barriers he encountered as a youngster.
I believe my passion to support anyone who wants to get into construction stems from endeavouring to remove barriers that I encountered as a 16-year-old leaving school in 1985 with no careers guidance and limited options due to the economic pressures at the time.
My careers information was based on series one of ‘Auf Wiedersehen, Pet’, where Gary Holton – who played the character Wayne, opened my eyes to the world of site carpentry. You could say Mr Frenais and Mr Clements who wrote the series, were my careers advisors!
My first job in Warwickshire
My roots are firmly based in Warwickshire, as I recall the early mornings and numerous pick-ups on the way to my first site in the rear of a transit van, as we headed over to Stratford-upon-Avon and was greeted by the sight of the RSC Swan Theatre covered in scaffolding.
I will never forget the sensory overload – strange sounds and the smell of steel being ground with angle grinders as I walked inside this huge historic building; discovering the auditorium; a sea of Douglas Fir timber as the replacement curved audience seating was being installed. I’m not sure you could beat that as a first project and it definitely gave me an interest in heritage construction and historic buildings, which I am still involved with today in Birmingham.
Supporting Nuneaton and Bedworth communities
My experience with encountering barriers to employment after leaving school has drawn me to support the twenty Princes Trust twelve-week pre-employment TEAM programmes, managed by Warwick College Group – with three of these programmes supporting students on the Nuneaton TEAM programme. These programmes are run through Nuneaton Fire and Rescue Service, which also enables us to identify and support community projects in partnership with EH Smiths Charitable Trust, including Mary Ann Evans Hospice, near George Eliot Hospital.
Through support of the TEAM programme, we provide students two weeks work placements on site at our Hampton by Hilton project in Abbey Street, including our latest T Level transformation programme learner, who enrolled onto a course at North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College in Business and joined us back on site in September 2023.
We are continuing to support NWSLC providing ongoing support for another T Level course at the college, through ‘site work-based placements’, where students spend a minimum of 45 days or nine weeks on site over the duration of their course.
We have also worked with NWSLC, Imagineer and Artichoke and provided financial support for learners who were involved in the creation of the Sanctuary Project in 2022, located in Miners Park in Bedworth. This culminated in over 10,000 people attending a memorial to those who were lost due to the pandemic, through an art installation that was created by David Best, famous for his Burning Man festivals in the US.
We recently supported six careers’ events as part of our ‘Nuneaton and Bedworth First’ – initiative at NWSLC and St Thomas More RC High School, where we set students a series of problem-solving STEM focussed challenges and link this to the skills that we require to help us plan a pipeline of potential construction management, business studies and quantity surveying apprentices at Level 4.
Planned T Level Placements
The success of our first cohort of Level 3 T Level placements resulted in four former students being offered apprenticeships with BAM Construction and BAM Nuttall across the UK. Following this we will be working with WCG – Leamington Campus to facilitate students studying the Design, Planning and Surveying pathway linked to a new school project on the outskirts of Nuneaton with placements scheduled to start in the Spring 2024.
The site team is supporting an unusual community-based application for a Show Garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in 2024. We have set this as a challenge for our team of apprentices across the Midlands and T Level learner on site at Hampton by Hilton, to support their qualifications where they need to demonstrate KSB’s (Knowledge Skills and Behaviours) through completing this challenge and working alongside other organisations including NWSLC. This project application will be submitted in September 2023 and linked to a brief set by Mary Ann Evans Hospice, following the work we undertook with the students on the Nuneaton based Princes Trust TEAM programme.
Planned trade placements
In addition to T Level placement opportunities, we will be working with our supply chain and NWSLC to roll out our project based BAM Work Placement programme, aimed at providing students with a two-week trade-based work placement in Brickwork and Carpentry on site at Hampton by Hilton in Abbey Street in the coming months. Our commitment to giving young people every opportunity to forge a career in constriction is total and ongoing.