Andrew Carpenter, Director of Constructing Excellence South West puts forth his proposal to market the Adopt a School Campaign in a big way.


The Background

The construction industry has picked up dramatically within the last eighteen months, led by the private housing market, and is now in a position whereby shortage of skilled people is the main concern. During the recent recession the UK construction industry lost between 300,000 and 500,000 people, depending on whom you talk to, and the shortage of people is particularly acute in the South West as those who lost jobs made their way east to seek new employment. 

We have a major problem inasmuch as construction is not seen by many as a career of ‘choice’ and this is mainly down to the poor ‘image of construction’. This ‘image’ problem is now seen as the number one priority by Government and with this in the mind the Government’s Chief Construction Adviser, Peter Hansford, launched an ‘Adopt a School’ campaign whilst he was spending three days in the South West with CESW CEO, Andrew Carpenter, just before Christmas last year.

The ‘Adopt a School’ campaign was picked up by the CESW Marcoms Forum, under the chairmanship of Kevin Park, of Ocean Housing Group, and work is being carried out now to market and communicate it. Early indications are that there are already pockets of excellent work being undertaken, in fact there is already an ‘Adopt a School’ project underway which has been around for five or six years. On top of that individual organistaions, e.g. EDF-Energy, have extensive school programmes in place and others like the CITB have things like their ‘Ambassador Programme’ in place. We have even found one school, Atrium School on Dartmoor, that has an exciting construction led project up and running already. The problem seems to be, as with much in construction, that these pockets of excellence are not well marketed outside of those taking part or communicated widely to allow an exchange of ‘best practice’ or prevent duplication of effort. Furthermore the vast majority of construction companies are NOT involved and the plan is to team each of these up with a local school to help promote a positive image of construction and it as a career path for its students.

The Need

It is suggested, by the Heart of the South West LEP who seem to be particularly keen on this campaign as they appointed the CITB to write a report on the subject of skills shortages and this topic came out as a main priority that the CESW Marcoms Forum, as a group already in situ, leads on it. Therefore we need resource to be able to have an individual responsible for coordinating the ‘Adopt a School’ campaign throughout the South West Region. This person would ensure, through the CESW web site, that all activities are communicated and marketed and look after a ‘matrix’ of schools wanting to be involved by putting them in touch with construction companies wanting to be involved.  There is no financial resource to do any of this and so an ingenious idea is required to make it happen.

The Ingenious Idea

My son, Tom, appeared on The Voice a few weeks ago and received much media attention at the time (trended at number 7 worldwide on Twitter, 350,000 hits on his You Tube channel, national magazine piece etc.). He has agreed to front a series of concerts, with his band, in the eight regions of the South West who have a CESW Club i.e. Cornwall, Plymouth, Exeter, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Bristol. The idea will be to hold a concert in each location, to be promoted by the local club, to raise money for the ‘Adopt a School’ campaign together with Tourettes Action, the charity for which my son is an ambassador (this was his reason for agreeing to do it). Tom sings swing and jazz as well as more contemporary songs and even has a small number of own material songs in the pipeline which will be ready for the autumn when this is planned. 


With my historic involvement with the National Operatic & Dramatic Association, for whom I was recently a South West Representative, I have access to theatres throughout the South West whom I’m sure will wish to participate in this programme. At each location it is suggested we have pull-up stands promoting construction, probably from CITB and the local company sponsoring the event (of which more later) together with a promotional video to be shown on the night (the same would have to be done for Tourettes Action). 


Press Coverage:

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CESW Adopt a School Campaign

An Evening with Tom Carpenter Friday 18th/Saturday 19th September 2015


The UK construction industry represents 10% of GDP and is the sector that leads the country into and out of recession. It is now in its third year of recovery and is critical to the success of the nation with every £1 spent on construction producing a spend of almost £3 elsewhere within the economy. The biggest challenge facing the UK construction industry currently is one of shortage of skilled workers, particularly on site where image of the industry is poor and also in construction management where little is known outside of the industry on the career options available. 



Late last year the Government’s Chief Construction Adviser, Peter Hansford, visited the South West with CESW CEO, Andrew Carpenter, and launched his ‘Adopt a School’ campaign. The idea is for construction related companies to ‘buddy up’ with their local schools to both improve the image of construction and promote it as a good career opportunity. CESW has taken up the challenge and through its Marketing & Communications Forum, chaired by Carol Heneghan of Halsall Construction, it has been working to make Peter’s dream a reality. 

Through initiatives promoting successful school programmes that are already in place such as the ‘Class of your Own’ initiative, a GCSE programme providing a recognized qualification in the built environment, and the CITB Construction Ambassador scheme CESW members can have an even greater impact on changing perceptions of the industry. CESW is now looking to raise funds to support its own initiative to find ten volunteers from each of its seven ’Best Practice’ clubs to become CITB Ambassadors and promote and facilitate take-up of the Class of Your Own’ programme. Tom Green of SLR Consulting has been providing valuable supporting material by mapping out potential schools and construction buddies particularly targeting schools with focus on STEM subjects.




Andrew’s son, Tom, appeared on BBC One TV’s ‘The Voice’ earlier this year and so Andrew decided to combine that fact with an ingenious idea to promote the campaign through a series of concerts involving his son. This would not only help raise the much needed funds but also associate the industry with something more contemporary and therefore hopefully attract young people to enquire about what construction can offer. Andrew hopes that local TV, radio and press will be sufficiently interested in this idea to help promote both the concerts and the need behind them. In addition the concerts will raise awareness of a condition called Tourettes Syndrome, which Tom lives with. 






Tom and his four piece band will play a selection of jazz and swing numbers, made famous by the likes of Michael Buble and the Rat Pack, as well as a number of more modern ‘pop’ songs from recent years. 

Initial dates have been booked for Tom to appear at The Red House at Plymouth School for Creative Arts on Friday 18thSeptember and Kidzrus Theatre in St Ives on Saturday 19thSeptember as part of the St Ives Festival. These two dates signal the first collaborations between local schools and industry related organizations with CESW Plymouth Club and Kier Construction buddying up with the Plymouth School for Creative Arts and CESW Cornwall Club and PBWC Architects buddying up with St Ives School. It is hoped in the months to come many more schools and construction related organizations will follow this lead.

In addition to the concerts, Tom will be spending time with the students to offer help and advice on living with a condition such as tourettes and explain how he has not allowed it to stand in his way. In Plymouth students will be working with Tom and his band to ‘set up’ on the morning of Friday 18th September before he performs a private concert for them that afternoon and in St Ives, Tom will visit the school on the morning of Monday 21stSeptember to deliver one of his ‘Inspirational Speeches’ which he has been asked to do across the UK since his appearance on The Voice.




Tickets for each concert may be obtained by contacting 01752 221927 in the case of Plymouth or 01736 797007 in the case of St Ives. Tickets for the St Ives concert may also be booked by visiting:this link. Alternatively please visit the CESW web site at for more information.




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