Raising the profile of our industry

On 4th March the WCoBM had a stand at the City Livery Schools Link exhibition for the first time. It was held at Barber-Surgeons’ Hall with 29 Livery companies supporting the event.

The Livery Schools Link is a volunteer organisation supporting education. It organises events for schools and offers volunteering opportunities for members of the City Livery Companies.

The exhibition was organised for the 3rd year running and is targeted at 14-17 year olds. The aim is for young students to learn about the range of career opportunities in the  trades, industries and professions the Livery companies represent. Over 450 students and their teachers from across London were invited to the event. Our stand was attended by the Master, Clerk, Liveryman Andrew Pine and the Almoner Andrew Adams.

The Livery Schools Link recognises that students need more than classroom teaching to help them with their future career choices. The exhibition gives them an idea of the career  paths and job opportunities without necessarily following the university route. Students were able to talk to apprentices, under-graduates and post-graduates as well as those who are more senior in their trade or profession in an informal setting while having some fun in taking part in challenges, practical activities and competitions.

The WCoBM is engaged, through its charity work, with educational awards and supporting the training of individuals in and outside the industry. This exhibition was therefore an ideal opportunity to talk to students about a career in builders’ merchanting or with a supplier of building materials. Our thanks to the Builders’ Merchants Federation for kindly providing a handout for our stand which students could take away with them. The handout explains the role of a builders’ merchants – who are we? What do we do? – the job opportunities in our sector and the qualifications required.

In addition to the explanatory handout, we also produce some practical and fun giveaways such as Oyster card wallets and our bright yellow rulers, both of which were very popular
with the students! The rulers were originally produced for the Lord Mayor’s Show and include that very important tagline: Builders’ Merchants: Supplying Britain’s Building Needs

Liveryman Andrew Pine comments on the day:

“We were very pleased with how the day went given that it was our first time, and picked up some valuable points for the next time we exhibit. It’s important to have material which actively engages and involves the students when they visit your stand. Our Oyster card holders were particularly popular! And our pull-up stand attracted attention with the glamour of the London Skyline.

“What became apparent very quickly though is how little students knew about our trade, including teachers and career officers. But once explained, there was real interest, especially when highlighting successes such as MKM’s Glenn Paddison, who benefitted from the BMF’s Youth Recruitment Campaign.

“The event emphasised the importance of taking part in the Livery Schools Link and in doing more to raise the profile of our industry to young individuals and their teachers. We work in a dynamic industry with many career opportunities but, as Liveryman Allan Durning and new President of the IoBM points out in his article, many students are unaware of the possibilities of working in a builders’ merchants or with a supplier. We enlightened one teacher who then brought her students to the stand. One expressed an interest in becoming a tradesman, and the teacher was able to explain how working for a builders’ merchant would still allow him to engage with the trade and products in different ways.”