By Dom Stevens – June 30th, 2021

Chesterfield Property and Construction Group has welcomed the efforts of the Chesterfield Borough Council to increase skills and diversity across the sector.

The group has now called on more construction and real estate professionals to participate in an industry-specific mentoring program at local schools and colleges.

Whittam Cox Architects group members and construction company Robert Woodhead Ltd support the successful Women in Construction mentoring program launched earlier this year by Chesterfield Borough Council and D2N2 North Derbyshire Careers Hub.

There are currently nine mentors, but it is hoped that more will come forward and inspire the next generation of construction and real estate workers.

Organized by Destination Chesterfield, the Chesterfield Property and Construction Group brings together real estate and construction executives in the area to shape and drive collaboration, investment, sustainability and skills within Chesterfield.

Andrew Byrne, Property Development Director of Devonshire Property Group, who hosted the recent Property and Construction Group meeting: “We have seen enhancing skills and diversity within the Chesterfield construction and real estate sector as a focus for the Group and Chesterfield over the years of the years identified over the next 12 months as we work with the city to help it realize its ambitions to be a place to live, work and invest now and for future generations. “

Speaking at the event, Corinne Hall, Chartered Architect and Team Leader at Whittam Cox Architects who currently oversees Heather Watton, the mature student at Chesterfield College, said, “Diversity is key to closing the skill gap and improving the quality of our built environment. This is a sector I enjoy working in, and mentoring women is helping to revolutionize the way women perceive the construction industry. “

Originally trained in hairdressing and beauty because “building construction just wasn’t the right thing for girls,” Heather is now training to be a volume assessor and graduate from Chesterfield College with a BTEC Certificate of Progress in Construction and the Built Environment. She hopes to mentor herself once she is qualified.

Heather, 37, who has always had an interest in building from watching her father renovate real estate, explains, “Having a mentor really boosted my confidence and decision-making. I actually started to believe that I could do it. Corinne listened to me and led me all the way. At first I didn’t know what a mentor was, but now I hope that one day I can also become a mentor and be someone who can pass on my experiences to those in need. “

The mentoring program “Women in Construction” helps to reduce misunderstandings about gender-specific roles in the real estate and construction sectors. A targeted mentoring program has been put in place to highlight the many different roles in the industry that may not previously have been considered to drive inclusion.

It offers high school and university students the opportunity to work with female executives from a wide range of disciplines in the real estate and construction sectors, where women currently make up only 14% of professional positions.

Councilor Amanda Serjeant, vice chairwoman of Chesterfield Borough Council and vice chairman of Destination Chesterfield, said: “Improving the skills and willingness of the people of Chesterfield to work is a top priority as it is such a vital role in creating a thriving borough now and then the future plays the future.

“This program is a great example of how, by working with our partners, we can strengthen the links between education and business to help more school leavers develop the skills they need to enter the workplace.

“We want Chesterfield to inspire and show that it is a great place to plan your future and build a successful career. In particular, working with young women in sectors where they are underrepresented is key to our success and we would be delighted if more mentors would contact us and support this positive program. “

Andrew added, “With more than £ 1 billion construction projects underway in Chesterfield, it is important that we fill the skills gap immediately. As a group, we recognize that we can do more to improve diversity in the industry, so we’re conducting research to identify more areas where we can make a real difference. “

The Chesterfield Property and Construction Group brings together real estate executives in the area and the Chesterfield Borough Council to shape and drive collaboration, investment, sustainability and skills within Chesterfield.

The next Chesterfield and Property Construction Group event will be on September 22nd, 2021 and will focus on sustainability.

For real estate and construction professionals interested in learning more about how to mentor or get involved with the Chesterfield Property and Construction Group, please email PropertyGroup@chesterfield.co.uk.