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CFA – Go Construct STEM Ambassadors

Richard Catt reveals that he’s become a flooring STEM Ambassador. But what exactly does that mean?

OVER the years, there have been many occasions on which CFA members have asked how they can help to get the message across to young people, who are beginning to consider their career choices, that becoming a floorlayer (or working in the flooring industry in some other capacity) is a credible and available career. Periodically, we’ve supported some initiatives, but I have to admit they have been sporadic and usually quite localised.


The shortage of skills and labour across the construction industry, but critically for us, floorlayers, is now very well documented and regularly discussed on these pages and beyond. Only very recently I outlined some of the plans that CFA have for 2022 in trying to help bridge that gap.


The Go Construct STEM Ambassadors scheme is one branch of this, and both Shaun Wadsworth (CFA and FITA training manager) and I decided we should gain experience, lead by example, and get directly involved. You may remember Shaun outlined the main details of the STEM Ambassador scheme in his CFJ article in October 2021, still available to read in the digital archive section of CFJ.


A quick recap from his words:
SCIENCE, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Construction and Built Environment Ambassadors can play an essential role in inspiring young people to consider a career in construction through a range of activities, including school presentations, careers talks
and mentoring…


STEM Ambassadors can help employers connect with young people, motivating them to become the next generation of our industry. Through programmes in schools, colleges and out-of-school groups, STEM Ambassador aims to grow the UK’s workforce with talented individuals who fully understand and have engaged with Construction and Built Environments.


In real terms, this means giving up some time to go into schools or colleges to do short presentations, hold workshops, perhaps attend a careers event with little pre-arranged demos or exercises that students can get involved in, or perhaps even hold mock interviews all designed to help students learn about the possibilities in flooring.


That is my understanding, but to be honest I have only just qualified and so have yet to attend my first event. That is my next step and it may have happened by the time you read this article. Our aspiration is to build a network of CFA-supported Flooring STEM Ambassadors and so I wanted to share with you the first steps of the process and reassure you that it is relatively easy.


The journey starts with visiting www.stem.org.uk and completing a registration form. Once you have done that you can very quickly complete the online training exercises. They are very informative, and you can delve as deep as you like, but to complete the basic levels, to become approved, takes three or four hours. You can do this in bite sized chunks and at your own pace, depending on time available. During that time, you not only learn a few things about presentation techniques but also all-important safeguarding best practice. Finally, you get a free Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check that can in fact be used for other activities involving young people where that is required.


Once both elements are complete, you get an email to confirm, a DBS Certificate and then email invites to events. CFA wants to add value, and so if you would like to become a STEM Ambassador to promote our sector, please feel free to get in touch. We will provide you with some further support, such as presentation ideas, pop up banners, and other learning support materials, like practical exercises if appropriate.


This was all developed during March, and we intend to include material that students can take away. The focus will be on digital and QR codes, if the young people want to remind themselves of what they have learnt (or show an adult) and where to find out more about a career in flooring.


The fantastic thing is that we do have some amazing opportunities and stories to tell. The businesses we work with include some amazing craftsmen and women (lets inspire some more girls to become floorlayers!) that have a story to tell about their journey. They earn a decent wage and if you are looking for a career, the number of business owners or senior managers I know in flooring who started their own company and began as floorlayers is significant. We just need to share those secrets with lots of kids. The 30 young apprentices we have in training at FITA got on board and are having a brilliant time.


I’m really excited about this project and would like to invite expressions of interest from anyone who works for a CFA member (contractors, manufacturers, or distributors), if you’d like to be included on our list of Flooring STEM Ambassadors.


We can help you get started, and you can reserve one of our STEM Ambassador Kits. Email: shaun@cfa.org.uk.


The CFA is a leading trade association representing the Flooring Industry. If you would like an application pack or further information on the benefits of membership, please contact the CFA offices.
0115 9411126
info@cfa.org.uk
www.cfa.org.uk

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