Alice Hunt, Workplace Assistant at leading house building firm Berkeley Group, is a frequent visitor to London South East Colleges’ Holly Hill Construction Skills Campus. She is both a familiar and welcome guest, known on first name terms with the majority of staff and even a number of our students.

This week, Alice came to conduct interviews with eight hopeful construction students shortlisted by the department on their suitability and skill levels for three posts available with Berkeley’s sub-contractors.

These were real interviews for real jobs and Alice was eager to spot potential, passion for the trade and a willingness to learn.

“Apprentices are a real force for good in our industry,” she says. “As exciting new practices and technology continue to evolve at such rapid pace, new talent is needed to keep the UK’s construction sectors alive and dynamic.”

Alice has worked for Berkeley Group for the past three years. Her role involves school engagement - visiting schools to promote awareness and appreciation of the built environment as well as giving advice and information on how young people can enter a whole range of professions and what they can expect to achieve during their careers.

More recently, and because of a shortage of new recruits to the building trade, she has focused more on recruitment and talent seeking. 

She continues: “Berkeley is a huge, FTSE 100 listed company who work very hard to help address the skills shortage across the UK, especially in and around London. It’s in our own interest to ensure we train our staff, and those of our sub-contractors to become the best in the business. Only with top quality professionals can we continue to build the homes we are building today. Without supporting more people to get themselves a trade, this can become very challenging.

"One of Berkeley's visions is to help people develop and close the skills gap. The quality of new homes is something we pride ourselves on, and our relationship with the College is based on training and quality. We count on the staff at Holly Hill to identify and select potential new recruits for a range of different disciplines from electricians to bricklayers and site managers. Our main contact here, Luke, has been very effective in shortlisting the right candidates for us to interview and place into suitable positions. In just the past year alone, we have taken on twenty new apprentices; all of whom are thriving.

“What I look for isn’t the number of GCSEs someone has achieved at school. It’s more about enthusiasm and energy; reliability and trustworthiness. I’m looking for people who can use their initiative and think on their feet. I also want to see evidence that the candidates can demonstrate impeccable behaviour and an understanding of health and safety, housekeeping, good punctuality, and attendance.

“Construction is a fabulous industry in which both men and women can, with lots of hard work and dedication, gain lots of job satisfaction and reach very highly-paid positions.”

If you think you have what it takes to become a construction or building trade professional and would like to build a successful career in the construction and built environment industries, we’d like to hear from you. We have a great range of courses and apprenticeship opportunities to get you started. Come along to one of our open events.

If you are an employer and would like to find out more about taking on an apprentice, please click here.

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