Are we looking at sustainability in its broadest sense?

Executive Director Christine Townley discusses sustainability of our workforce within construction.


I was at Ecobuild, the world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment, last week and it occurred to me that we don’t always look at sustainability in its broadest sense.


We focus on environmental sustainability but yet what about the sustainability of our workforce within construction?  We know we have an aging workforce and need to nurture young people and so the sustainability of the industry should be a focus for all of us. At Construction Youth Trust we work with young people and show them the opportunities that construction can hold for them.  These young people will be the future of the industry and this new talent needs to be nurtured.


 It also got me thinking about the economic and social sustainability of our poorest communities?  I often read Corporate Social Responsibility policies which talk about  green technology or BREAM rated buildings but it would be great to see policies looking at helping young people into work too.


We are heartened by those companies who do look at CSR and sustainability in its broadest sense and those who prioritise training and employment in communities of greatest need. Our corporate partners, Land Securities and Bouygues sponsor our mobile classroom because they have a commitment to making sure that the hardest-to-reach young people have opportunities: that their developments and their construction projects have an economic and social ‘ripple effect’ and that the investment brings jobs and others opportunities for young people.


British Land, who also partner with us,  have used their development at 5 Broadgate to host a Budding Brunels programme for young people living in deprived London boroughs. These areas have some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country and these programmes are a pathway into work and  a route out of social exclusion and poverty.  


Through this work British Land are showing their commitment to encouraging talent into the industry, encouraging fair access to the professions and fostering social mobility.  We want to work with more organisations across the sector in this way. We need developers, contractors, consultants who recognise that they do not work in isolation and that their developments have the potential to create opportunity and positively impact on the financial and social sustainability of the communities in which they work.  This work also maintains the sustainability of our workforce and ensures the security of the industry’s future.