Last week, at World Skills UK Live, FIS launched its new work experience programme aimed at lining up suitable employers and FIS Approved Training Providers to help college learners get real industry experience – introducing BuildME.

It’s no trade secret that an aging workforce, widening skill gap and a decline in interest from younger generations are amongst the biggest challenges that face the construction industry today. The recent Construction Skills Network (CSN) report shows that the wider industry will need 36,000 new recruits per year from 2017 to 2021. In some specialist occupations the need for new workers remains acute, with wood trades and interior fit-out highlighted as areas of particular concern. There is also the ongoing challenge of replacing an ageing workforce, which will become more pressing if Brexit stems the flow of mainly younger workers from abroad.

The programme aims to match interested employers with suitable candidates and simplify and support the employer through the process. Focus is on basic construction, plastering, drylining, carpentry and joinery, interior systems and painting and decorating courses from Level 1 to 3, but FIS is committed to ensuring that good students from across construction find employment within the industry.

BuildME helps the employer (via a dedicated helpline and toolkit) to create a structured two-week work experience placement designed to give the candidate a real look into the industry, to see how their skills will be used, to work amongst their future colleagues and to meet with an employer who could serve as a first reference, or better still, a potential employer themselves. This work experience also has a whole range of benefits for an employer including the ability to trial a potential new hire or apprentice and create mentoring experiences for current staff.

Iain McIlwee FIS chief executive “We do need to do more to attract talent, but we also need to identify and eradicate waste – an obvious example being the huge proportion of those who start Level 1 Diploma’s in the construction sector that never work in industry. The beauty of this programme is its simplicity. The candidate gets some real-world experience and in the process, we help to remove the fear of the unknown and to dispel some of the many myths associated with working in construction.

From the employers’ side, who wouldn’t want to pick from the cream of the crop and to ensure talented individuals, worth hanging on to, are not allowed to drift out of the sector. By simply removing the time and complexity associated with creating work experience opportunities, BuildME opens the doors (literally!) for employers to address this wastage and ensure the monies and resources spent on new entrants in construction trades is a genuine investment for the whole economy.”

If you’d like to hear more about BuildME or for more information about any of the current programmes being led by the Skills Team, please email call 0121 707 0077 or visit