In the first of a series of articles for Builders’ Merchants News, Immediate Past Master Brian Blanchard explains why WCoBM launched ‘Build A Career Without Limits’ – a campaign for companies to use for recruiting and building awareness in tomorrow’s workforce. The article was published in the Nov/Dec issue, page 13.

Look out for the next one in January 2019, featuring Lawsons UK.


Building careers in builders’ merchanting

Construction is approximately 7% of GDP and employs around one in 10 people in the UK. So, it’s important. Up to 85% of everything that’s built in the UK – houses, schools, hospitals, warehouses, hotels, retail and offices, through to roads, airports and railways – is supplied through builders’ merchants and their suppliers.

Our industry is exciting and well-paid, but who knows? What people do ‘know’ is often incorrect or negative, so there’s little motivation to join, and it consistently fails to make the shortlist of careers to consider.

Yet the career prospects with a manufacturer or merchant are tremendous. You can start in the warehouse or yard, be a fork lift or HGV driver, work on the counter, showroom, website or sales, and progress to branch manager, commercial, financial director or MD. The range of jobs is enormous, and the opportunities for training and development and learning new skills are excellent. Someone starting at the bottom can work their way up to the very top. We have many examples in our industry of people who’ve done just that, acquiring skills, qualifications and experience on the way. Some now run some of the largest companies in the UK.

Earlier this year, WCoBM launched ‘Build A Career Without Limits’ to raise awareness of the varied and exciting jobs in builders’ merchanting or working with a building materials’ manufacturer. Supporting training and education is a key objective of our Livery Company and we are taking a lead so other companies can benefit. The campaign is targeted at:

  • Young people leaving school or college and looking for a career where they can develop new skills, gain qualifications and explore new avenues to support their ambitions;
  • Those already in our sector to encourage them to stay and make them aware of the opportunities for further training and development – where they can go to find out more and who to talk to;
  • Individuals working outside construction who are thinking of switching careers.

As an industry we need to get better at explaining what we do: what’s good about working with a merchant or manufacturer, and why our sector matters.

The articles will include advice on recruiting and filling the growing skills gap; staff training, apprenticeships, financial support that’s available to individuals who want to further their training and education; and the practical tools we’ve created for the campaign for merchants and manufacturers to use to raise awareness in local communities. We’ll also have merchant and supplier case studies.

Working together we can show people a different side of construction and gain their interest. It won’t happen overnight, but we need to start somewhere.

Share posts with the hashtag #BuildACareerWithoutLimits and if you haven’t yet, watch our video here: