Sisk working with Leeds College of Building

Company: Sisk

Sectors: Advanced Manufacturing / R&D, Commercial, Data / ICT, Education, Healthcare, Life Sciences, Residential, Sports & Leisure. Transport & Infrastructure

Location: UK, Ireland, Benelux, Nordics, DACH Region

In November 2021 Leeds College of Building students took part in an employability session with three Sisk members of staff. After receiving positive feedback in the session, Sisk offered four students a week of on-site work experience. Sisk Regional Stakeholder and Communications Manager, Kelly Sowden, discusses how providing work experience opportunities can benefit both employers and students.

Founded in 1859 John Sisk & Son Ltd is an international construction and civil engineering firm that has evolved into Ireland’s leading builder and contractor. The family-owned business now delivers multidisciplinary projects in the UK too, including many programmes in and around West Yorkshire. It has approximately 5,000 employees and is continuing to expand.

The employability sessions run by Sisk were part of a partnership between Leeds College of Building to engage students in Civil Engineering. Activities included site visits, careers support, construction project talks and mock interviews by Sisk employees.

Kelly described how the second-year Level 3 Construction and the Built Environment students were approachable, receptive to feedback and keen to learn. She was impressed by their determination to progress their careers and that they knew they either wanted to focus on engineering or site supervision. Kelly highlights the benefits of work experience as being reciprocal as students get to know the company and vice versa.

In terms of future opportunities for students, Sisk offers different apprenticeships such as Construction Management. The company deliberately recruits apprentices that are based up no more than 40 miles from a scheme to ensure that the wages paid go back into the local economy. Kelly recommends that employers wanting to hold employability sessions set up a structure similar to an assessment centre with mock interviews and CV workshops.

When considering inclusivity and diversity Kelly emphasises that this should be an essential commitment from employers. Construction is a career for women as well as men and this can really resonate with younger females who would like to explore it as a career path. It has been positive for her to see female employees rising in the ranks in recent years. From a business point of view, it is essential to show that there is no discrimination and that employers can play a part in breaking down different barriers and stigmas.