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"We're in a unique position. We're able to open doors that, for many, have been firmly shut"

We speak to our Head of Skills & Employment, Bryn Parker, about how we're leaving our mark in local communities across London

We exist to create outstanding places where people can thrive – that’s a purpose that flows from what we put on paper at the first stage of design, through how we run, staff and manage our site environments and all the way through to the final built environment that becomes part of the long-term fabric of London.  Involving local people and employing local labour is all part of contributing to the community and creating an outstanding place both during and after the building phase. 

Our ideal scenario is that we don’t just hit the targets that we’ve agreed with the local borough - we want people to thrive, and we want to do our bit to communicate the wealth of opportunities available in our industry.  That can start with curriculum support, and going into local schools to educate them about the varied paths into our industry and the breadth of careers available, resonate through work experience where we take people into our business, reappear in apprenticeships and ideally culminate in a long term job role.  We recently wrote about Arin Fehmi, a great example...

The person who ties all of this together is our very own Bryn Parker, Head of Employment & Skills at Mount Anvil. To celebrate National Apprenticeships week last week, we sat down to have a good chat..

 

Hi Bryn. Tell us a bit about yourself – how long have you been at Mount Anvil?

I’ve been here at Mount Anvil for about two & a half years now. My background has been in the charity sector before joining Mount Anvil. Through my time working with charities and supporting residents into employment, I began working closer with developers and construction companies in fulfilling their section 106 needs. This is what led me to Mount Anvil!

What does a typical working week look like for you?

My time is broadly split in two: half of my time is spent shaping Mount Anvil’s commitments to local communities, working closely with our land and development teams at the early stages of any potential development. This tends to involve agreeing on apprenticeships, local labour & curriculum support. This normally keeps me at our Barbican office, or at one of our many partner offices.

The other half of my role typically revolves around the delivery of these initiatives to the local communities that we work with. This might typically involve me getting out and about visiting schools or local community groups or arranging for work experience & apprenticeships with our subcontractors and running employability workshops. I love this side to my role as no two days are the same.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role?

I particularly enjoy the curriculum side of the role, as it allows me to get closer to my passion that is working with young people and setting them up with the skills required for a successful career.

A great for me day is when I get to see the real-life impact of my work out in the community. I’ve seen traffic marshals gaining employment in local communities thanks to the initiatives I’ve contributed to, I’ve also seen local residents becoming trained which has resulted in employment directly on our schemes. I find it genuinely so rewarding to have a job that really makes an impact and makes a visible difference to the local communities that we work with. 

Sounds like you’re hugely passionate about developing young people and helping them realise their potential. What role does Mount Anvil specifically have to play here?

For me, it’s all about leadership & collaboration. Leadership in the sense that we’ve a great platform to lead from the front in terms of apprenticeships, training and curriculum support for people of all ages. When it comes to collaboration, it’s about working with our subcontractors to best utilise the skills that are on our doorstep, in the environments that are going to have the biggest impact.  

It’s vital that Mount Anvil are playing this role because we’re in a unique position to be able to open doors that aren’t usually open to people. Some need that extra hand or leg up to get into employment, for them to start on the ladder. I feel empowered in the knowledge that Mount Anvil is as passionate about this subject as I am.

Sounds like we’ve an important part to play! The issue of skills shortages in our industry has been well publicised in recent times. What impact do you see today’s apprentices having on the workforce over the next ten or so years?

It’s a new generation for new times. As with every other industry, ours is changing rapidly. For instance, we’ve seen the use of technology on site explode in recent years - we need new skillsets across our sites in order to drive the industry forward. This is made even trickier given the ever-increasing levels of regulation in our industry: the skills shortage has certainly intensified. The industry as a whole is faced with this pretty huge challenge. It feels as though the starting gun went off a while back, but we’re not yet running towards the finish line – we’ve a long way to go if we’re to catch up.

Then there’s also the image of the industry to consider. It hasn’t necessarily always been promoted in a positive light. We’re still fighting against the age-old stereotypes that are still present in the industry. Apprentices have a vital role to play in leading that image change from the inside-out.

What are the biggest issues facing young people in London?

I think gaining access to the necessary levels of support. You’d be surprised to know how many people struggle to even know how to get a job. We live in a society where we need everything now, but as an applicant, getting great first-hand support is hard, if sometimes impossible to get hold of.

And put slightly different, there’s a risk that today’s generation bypass this entire industry as it’s not seen as being glamourous enough, or one that provides long-term career development. That skills gap will continue to grow if we’re not able to make our industry an attractive proposition for young people.

That’s great- thanks for sharing with us, Bryn. Finally- what’s your favourite Mount Anvil scheme?

Keybridge – it’s the brick element for me. And of course, because of its connections with the local school. I’m a regular down there! And of course because I’m a South London boy!