Meet the Expert – the first Building Standards Ambassador Event
A guest post from Danny Henderson, City of Edinburgh Council
After being invited by the Building Standards Division to join the newly formed Building Standards Ambassadors Network earlier in the year, I was delighted to participate in my first engagement session with many young people from high schools across Scotland.
I was asked to participate in a “Virtual Meet the Expert” session with Skills Development Scotland, and I was delighted to speak openly in a short session with the My World of Work Live team led by Stefan Mullan. The My World of Work Live team plays a key part in Skills Development Scotland’s engagement with young people, helping them understand the careers of the future and learn about the skills they’ll need for them. The team deliver engaging, hands-on sessions for schools and live broadcasts such as the Meet the Expert sessions.
The session itself was both enjoyable and straight forward, with a few trial runs of the event organised by the My Work of Work Live team before our live session with the audience of high school students. The team made the session simple to be part of – the only task that I had was to do most of the talking during the live broadcast.
Our session reflected on the purpose of the Building Standards system, followed by some reflection on my own experiences, then a question and answer session with the students. Within my introduction to the Building Standards profession, it was vital to emphasise the importance of Building Standards and why the role of verifier exists, however it was important to convey this in a way that students could relate to.
In addition to reflection on the Grenfell tragedy, which is known and recognised by all, I was able to share my experiences working north and south of the border, and some of my recent experiences with the City of Edinburgh Council. I was able to provide examples of the construction of our housing, schools, hospitals – and some Edinburgh specific examples of Edinburgh Airport and Building Standards role on the grandstand for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which is prominent in our capital city.
In sharing these experiences, I was honest in sharing some of the challenging aspects of the role, but by and large, I advised that the Building Standards profession is an interesting and challenging career path to pursue. The variety of work and building types provides an ever-changing dynamic to the role as a Building Standards Surveyor.
The session also reflected on some of the many entry routes into Building Standards through academic qualification and experience. Emphasis was placed on entry routes through Graduate Apprenticeships with the clear message – work, earn and learn – which is something we have experienced great success with at the City of Edinburgh Council. To address the workforce strategy challenges which Building Standards has, we must attract more people to the profession – those who are already in the industry or those who are beginning to set out their career path. I would encourage all Local Authorities in Scotland to actively create new opportunities through Graduate Apprenticeships, and I would welcome conversation and engagement with any Local Authority considering Graduate Apprentice roles as part of their workforce strategy.
Finally, my message to the students was loud and clear – Building Standards is a profession for all. Diverse workforces from my experience usually represent the best and most harmonious teams. We want to create a Building Standards profession – and construction industry – that is inclusive for all regardless of gender, age, race or ethnicity. Our primary goal should be to attract and develop talented people to the Building Standards profession and raise the profile of the industry.