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Kudos in Construction Logo

Placing the spotlight on people, not just data.

Kudos in Construction Logo

Barbour ABI are creating a monthly series documenting the best the construction industry has to offer. Not organisations, not data-led research, but the people, those people that are championing a cause or producing excellent work in a particular field of expertise.

Our Focus This Month: Future Talent Seekers

You don’t have to look to hard to find an article or a survey that states the construction industry is facing a skills shortage. There are many different factors contributing to this;

  • The UKs break from the European Union
  • Many now facing retirement age 1
  • The image problem many see as a deterrent to entering into construction
  • The next generation not finding the construction industry appealing (just 7% would choose construction as their first choice of industry) 2

And with none of these factors looking like changing in the short-term the skills shortage may continue for some time.

But there are many people who are trying to change this narrative. Those people who believe in the next generation of skilled workers and are determined to change the current narrative, these are the Future Talent Seekers!

Seeking to make the transition into the amazing world of construction an easy and exciting one, our Future Talent Seekers look to change the perception of construction into one that is seen as a valid career choice. From researching roadblocks and exploring future solutions, to the development of platforms that make the industry more open and accessible now and in the future.

This month Barbour ABI is giving kudos to these Future Talent Seekers. To those who are making a difference in the development of the next generation of individuals, who will be keeping construction vibrant, exciting and an industry that understands the importance of talent acquisition and development.

Key Features


Liz Waters,
Stakeholder & Community Manager @ Sir Robert McAlpine

Future Talent Seeker:

Author of the Construction as a Career of Choice for Young People Report through the Sir Ian Dixon Scholarship (published 2017). View the full report here

Bio and Background:

With a background in local newspapers, branding, events and communication, Liz’s route into construction was not a traditional one, but once there Liz soon realised that this was the industry for her.

Liz currently works as the Stakeholder & Community Manager for Sir Robert McAlpine which means looking after stakeholders and the communications on projects to make sure the impact any project may have on the surrounding or wider area is well managed and communicated. Liz’s role also includes community investment and social values.

Construction Kudos:

It was her growing passion for the construction industry that led her to researching the area of the construction industry being a valid career choice for young people via the Sir Ian Dixon Scholarship (CIOB) and although written a number of years ago, Liz’s work still hold relevance today – Liz’s conclusions highlighted the need for an up to date culture, better communication and engagement.


‘To be able to utilise this to potentially help shape the industry and inspire the younger generation to consider construction as a viable career option was extremely attractive’
Liz Waters

Resource Links:




Sir Rober McAlpine Logo


Sarah Beale,
CEO @ Construction Industry Training Board

Future Talent Seeker:

Lead on the People & Skills Network Industry Initiative for CLC (Construction Leadership Council)

Bio and Background:

Sarah worked mainly within the financial sector at the start of her career as an AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) Accounting Technician before studying with the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and achieving Chartered Status. In 2005 she joined the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) and in 2017 became CEO.

Sarah’s background in leading several transformational programs meant she was the ideal candidate to assist in transforming skill requirements for the construction industry through the Vision 2020 program.

In 2019 Sarah was awarded an honorary fellowship by the University of Wales for services to diversity, inclusion and innovation in the training sector.

Although Sarah has since stepped down as CEO to tackle a new challenge at the Association of Accounting Technicians (ATT) her #KudosInConstruction is hugely warranted.

Construction Kudos:

You would think that Sarah had enough on her plate as CEO of the CITB, but alongside this role she was the Chair of the CLC (Construction Leadership Council) Skills Network helping to develop programs such as the People & Skills Network Industry Initiative and the Industry Skills Plan, the latter of which looked to solve the core skills needed within the construction industry through training, development as well as a clear route to entry.


‘I’m extremely proud to be Chief Executive of CITB… addressing and influencing the skills needs of the Industry, under our priorities of careers, standards and qualifications and training and development.’
Sarah Beale

Resource Links:






Suzannah Nichol MBE,
Chief Executive @ Build UK

Future Talent Seeker:

Open Doors project allowing people to go behind the scenes within the construction industry.

Bio and Background:

Suzannah is a passionate advocate for construction, with her connection to the industry going back to a site visit during a week’s work experience and now this connection could be seen as going full circle with the work she is doing through Build UK.

With a degree in Construction Management Suzannah started her career as a site engineer before spending 13 years at the NSCC (National Specialist Contractors’ Council). Prior to becoming the Chief Executive at Build UK Suzannah was the driving force behind the merger that eventually formed the organisation itself. Amongst many targets, Build UK looks to improve business performance, increase productivity and recruiting, training and retaining talent across the industry.

Suzannah was awarded an MBE in 2005 and CITB Personality of the Year 2014.

Construction Kudos:

During Suzannah’s tenure at Build UK the Open Doors project was introduced in 2016 as an initiative run by the industry, for the industry. A project that takes young people behind the hoardings of over 1,000 sites, offices, factories and training centres across the UK, showcasing the amazing range or roles, careers and projects available in construction.

Open Doors is supported by many of the large boards, schemes and federations within construction as well as Government departments.


‘We do actually have some amazing recruitment initiatives that show young people the fantastic stuff we do and take them on their journey into construction.’
Suzannah Nichol

Resource Links:





Build UK Logo
Construction Youth Trust Logo


Carol Lynch,
Chief Executive @ Construction Youth Trust

Future Talent Seekers:

Construction Youth Trust is a charity whose aim is to inspire and enable young people to overcome barriers and discover a career in the construction and built environment sector.

Bio and Background:

Having started out working life as a Civil Engineer herself, Carol certainly has an educational background in both meanings of the word after studying Civil Engineering at the University College of Dublin before later becoming an integral part of the educational system itself through the Teacher Support Network and Worklife Support (working with over 3,000 schools).

Throughout her career, Carol has always looked to help those that need it the most – be it teachers, schools, local charities, volunteer-led organisations and community funding, culminating in her current role as CEO of the Construction Youth Trust.

Construction Kudos:

Carol is now committed to helping more young people access career opportunities within construction, just part of the Construction Youth Trust’s mission.

The Construction Youth Trust aims to support young people to overcome barriers and develop successful careers in construction and built environment sector and under Carols leadership this has meant focussing on initiatives that drive the agenda forward for young people as well as construction organisations and the wider community of stakeholders that can all play their part.

Initiatives such as #ExperienceConstruction and #BuildingAspirations, which are both aimed at getting organisations and individuals to reach out and inspire the next generation of skilled workers as well as more robust programs including; Schools Partnerships, Budding Builders and Budding Burnels.


‘We are trying to break down some of the barriers that young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds or groups that are traditionally under-represented in the industry, still face.’
Carol Lynch

Resource Links:







Kevin O’Connor,
Head of Social Responsibility and Inclusion @ Durkan


Trustee for YouthBuild UK

Bio and Background:

Starting out in construction by working with his dad as a flat roof labourer, Kevin understands the need to help and support communities. This is clear by the work he was previously involved in as a volunteer working with street homeless alcohol and drugs services in North London and more recently MIND.

Kevin joined Durkan as a Resident Liaison Officer and is now the Head of Social Responsibility and Inclusion at Durkan, responsible for the Durkan Social Value including; traineeships, apprenticeships and professional qualifications.

Construction Kudos:

Although it is clear to see the amazing work Kevin has been involved in from creating employment opportunities for people with complex needs to supporting community larders, it is his work as a Trustee for YouthBuild UK that is why we want to give him Kudos as a future talent seeker.

YouthBuild UK aims to empower disadvantaged young people and collaborate with organisations who offer working opportunities to them as well as hosting an annual events program and yearly awards.


‘Social value is firmly embedded in all the projects Durkan undertakes to create opportunities within the communities we work in. Our work around social value includes training, apprenticeships and employment opportunities’
Kevin O’Connor

Resource Links:





Durkan Logo
Kudos in Construction Logo



Within every industry there is a need for a continual injection of new talent and the construction industry is no exception. An aging workforce and new technologies (as well as other factors) contribute to the need for not only new talent, but the development of this talent in traditional and new ways of working.

The people we give kudos to are making this possible through the research and understanding of where the construction industry needs to attract the next generation of talented individuals to providing much easier access into the industry for all, and the opportunities that are presented by doing this.

If you liked reading this then check out our previous editions below, where we highlight more amazing figures who are making major strides in innovation and sustainability:



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