What workers want has never been a more powerful factor in the labour market. As we emerge from two years of disruption, experts tell us ‘it’s talent’s world and employers live in it’.

Fergus Barry – HR Director speaks to the CIF Magazine.

The construction and engineering industries are no different. We must look at ourselves and realise that if we want to attract and retain new talent, we must provide an environment that’s attractive to and supportive of them.

Our search has clearly identified that people today want:

  1. Reward and a new way of working
  2. A sustainable career
  3. A role with purpose that truly makes a difference

Our industry wants many things – but something we actually need is a much stronger female representation in our workforce.

As we mark International Women’s Day in 2022, how can we use what we have learned above from research to attract, develop and retain more female talent?

Reward and a new way of working
External observers may feel the new way of working – flexible, hybrid or remote – is not suited to the construction sector.
However, the key to unlocking this great opportunity for our colleagues and potential colleagues is using the growing capability of technology.

Digitisation, BIM, Augmented Reality, 3D modelling, Connected World and more are enabling the sector and its projects further, faster with more flexibility. Much of this side of the business offers flexibility to workers to remain at home or in a local hub rather than coming to the office or on-site all the time.

Of course, to stay at the cutting-edge of these technological advances, this industry needs graduates who are ‘true talent’ – i.e., people who are bright, have strong STEM capabilities, and who also have the aptitude to develop into technical, commercial and people leaders.

So many of today’s female school leavers and graduates have these aptitudes and our industry needs them.

We cannot afford to miss this great source of brilliant potential. It’s vital that the industry takes the time to engage students while they’re still in education – even at primary-level – to help plant the seed in their minds that we can offer a great career and a great future.

At Kirby we have developed strong relationships with local schools and are actively pushing this agenda.

In 2022 we have launched a number of three-year bursaries in key third level colleges across Ireland that will support Female Engineers in qualifying as graduate engineers.

The support is not just limited to covering their fees, it also includes internships, paid vacation work and real experience in our well-developed engineering teams.

A sustainable career
It’s time to finally banish the image of construction as a stop-start job.

It is rather an industry within which talent has the opportunity to develop its portfolio of skills and competencies.

With the increased use of technology and digitisation in the industry, as well as increasing complexity of modern built environment projects, this is simplistic and out of date thinking.

Kirby provides clear career paths and invests in the development of our people and seeks to retain our talent as a key part of our sustainable competitive advantage.

Companies now want to develop a team on a major project and see that team and its capabilities as a key resource for future company development.

In fact, success at the end of a project is measured by the project having been delivered sustainably, on time, to quality, to budget and that the team which delivered the project has learned from the process and developed its capability.

We are and need to be ‘learning organisations’.

It’s in companies’ interests to hold this talent and use their capability to win and deliver the next major project.

The growth and skill levels achieved thus provide talent security which is a basic but key requirement for any sort of sustainable career.
Construction now provides the opportunity to plot a career path and develop a portfolio of valuable competency over years and decades.

A role with purpose that truly makes a difference
At Kirby we make a real difference by delivering world class and leading-edge digital, MedTech, pharmaceutical, industrial manufacturing and renewable
energy infrastructure that truly makes a difference in our modern world.

We deliver these projects for the world’s leading international companies.

In doing this, we are helping make the planet more connected, healthier and supported by sustainable industry.

Kirby and its community of colleagues invest heavily and are passionate about our social and corporate responsibilities and strive as a collective community to enrich the communities within which we operate.

We are proud of our purpose and our impact. This matters to all our colleagues.

We believe the new talent also demands this. Work with a purpose. We focus on creating value.

‘The construction industry has looked at itself and it is clear that our projects and key construction projects make a difference for humanity. The projects, because of their scale, can be readily identified as ones that enrich the environment. The construction industry is confident in that it genuinely and demonstrably has a purpose and adds real value to society.’

Construction is one of our oldest industries. Without it there would have been no pyramids, no Newgrange, and no cathedrals.

However, because of its age, construction has sustained many traditions and practices that are unsuited to the modern world, particularly post-pandemic.

Many fitted a migrant workforce in an era of different work standards and standards of living. The old ways often provided a style of employment that were the antithesis of a positive work-life balance.

A key for getting more females into the industry is using the great connected technology that is now available as well as our learning throughout the pandemic.

Technology and what we’ve learned about hybrid working has proven to us that many jobs can be done in different ways, places and at different times.

The real challenge for our industry is a focus on an open mindset to support new, different and better ways of working for our existing and future talent.

At Kirby, we are focused on this and look forward to moving forward and learning in the delivery of this ‘new way of working’.

We’re now in a position where the industry has a different offering for the female apprentice or graduate.

By exploiting and investing in technology and aligning ourselves with the new way of working, we create the opportunities for a more diverse workforce.

Our strength is our diversity and we are positively committed to increasing this.

Read the full article in pdf format here: https://www.flipsnack.com/cifconstruction/cif-construction-magazine-march-2022/full-view.html

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Pictured are Ivana Suvak Simunovic – Project BIM Lead, Eve Cassidy – Civil Engineer,  Suzanne Kirwan – Paralegal Executive, Melandri Van Zyl – HR Officer,  Caroline Keely – Group Financial Accountant
Pictured are Ivana Suvak Simunovic – Project BIM Lead, Eve Cassidy – Civil Engineer, Suzanne Kirwan – Paralegal Executive, Melandri Van Zyl – HR Officer, Caroline Keely – Group Financial Accountant
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