“Some of the biggest obstacles in life are the barriers we create in our minds”
Barriers are a good thing – when we want to be safe, to keep people from harm. But – when we want them to do well, to get ahead, to feel welcome or make a successful change as they aspire to a better position in life – then those barriers need to be broken down. That can be hard enough when we can see the barriers, but if they’re tucked away in people’s minds, created by fears, mis-understanding or simply through lack of confidence, they can feel insurmountable.
This is why we’re taking action.
There is a massive skills gap in society, and particularly in construction and services sectors. People and businesses can thrive if we close that and boost skills in areas like STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and maths), digital transformation, numeracy and literacy. They are key to economic growth, to independence and to improving social mobility. But – alongside these gaps in technical skills lurk far deeper and more subjective problems, namely gaps in wider employability skills. These could be as simple as abilities to communicate, work in a team, solve problems and apply initiative, or they could run far deeper in terms of being unable to value diversity, to negotiate or simply to collaborate in a fair and supportive way.
Together – we need to take action.
Major changes in employability include new pressures on how people enter, remain or return to the job market, such as those leaving school, those returning from maternity or facing ‘caring’ responsibilities. The barriers to progress are even higher for some who seek to change careers, perhaps on leaving the military, or seek to rebuild their lives on leaving prison – or who are homeless. Real and perceived barriers remain a constant threat to opportunities for people who have skills or potential but are unable to realise them
We can break down those barriers by taking action.
By 2030, Carillion has committed to “Break Down One Million Barriers to Opportunity.” Our programme will focus on employability skills, inspire the next generation of workers and help people from disadvantaged groups to find long-term employment. The programme will also support our own people – with skills investment, with supportive policies and with succession programmes that identify talent and help it to flourish. We’re targeting these ambitions across our full range of international operations, from Canada, through the UK and on to the Middle East. Like any family, we are stronger when we come together.
Much of the programme will be delivered through volunteering – the key currency of community engagement, and an often powerful route to personal development in itself. Fewer than one third of workplaces offer volunteering schemes, but we will encourage our people to use up to six days of paid leave to offer careers support to schools, mentoring, workshops and interview skills, together with offering support for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as those with disabilities, ex-offenders and those leaving the armed forces.
We can inspire, excite and develop the skills and potential of anyone who may see barriers in connecting with modern businesses. Bringing together over 30 existing initiatives under one powerful ‘umbrella’ – this programme is backed by decades of practical experience and hard-won lessons in helping people to get ahead in life, whatever their social status. And – it’s already working. When we launched this programme in London, we heard from students who had seen their confidence soar after mentoring, help with CVs and focused coaching from our business teams; one had even decided to ‘chance his arm’ and ask the Porsche garage for a job! In another real-life example, you could have heard a ‘pin drop’ as a man serving a custodial sentence explained the crucial experience that he was gaining in a technical placement working alongside our facilities managers at his prison – getting him ready to work before he has even finished his sentence. In both cases, I felt so proud that we could change lives like that.
But – it needs action.
And – it needs you. For now, that could be as simple as taking the first step of visiting our programme hub but we hope you’ll take it much further than that. We hope you’ll join us, you’ll act and you’ll start to break those barriers down. If some of the biggest barriers in life are in our minds, then the tools to break them down are there too – we just have to choose to act.
As individuals, we can change a life. Together, we can change a million lives. Please join us on the road to 2030.