John Gaffney is Thakeham’s Group Construction Director responsible for overseeing construction projects across the Group.
How long have you been in House Building?
“My family was in the building trade and perhaps this influence led to me starting out as a carpenter apprentice for a local company, at the age of 16. Hard work learning the trade led to the offer of a Management Scholarship and I undertook a Management training course which harnessed my skills for a career in the industry. For over 30 years, house building has been all I’ve known, and it still challenges me daily!
What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?
“Coming into the industry as a trainee myself, I find it incredibly rewarding to nurture the talent we have at Thakeham and to inspire those looking to house building as a career. Currently the industry faces several challenges: a well-publicised skills shortage; a lack of communication for the careers available in house building and construction and a need for an improved focus on training and development. If we can address communication, training and development – we can go some way to filling the skilled workforce gap.”
A Trainee & Recruitment Programme – Talent for Development
“Thakeham is finalising a Trainee & Recruitment Programme called Talent for Development.
“The programme has been designed to nurture talent within the company by structuring and supporting professional journeys. It will also look to how we can continue to attract new skills and talent to join our team. As Thakeham Group continues to grow, we have the potential to be able to offer a range of opportunities to those looking to house building as a career.
“As part of our initiative, we are working with charities including Building Heroes, which provides skills training to Military Veterans and supports employment in building trades. With approximately 120,000 military veterans of working age in Britain today, there is a wealth of skill and talent looking for new opportunity. Lee Roberts came to us on completion of 22 years’ service with the Royal Engineers, he is now employed as Assistant Site Manager on our site at Langham Court, Farnham and is key in promoting Talent for Development to Military Veterans.
“Talent for Development is a really exciting initiative – supporting a drive for talent and at the same time addressing the skills shortage issue facing our industry today, is hugely satisfying and is a challenge I am passionate about.”
What do you see in the future of House Building?
“There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the house building industry and its future, and I am sure this won’t change. We need to address the shortage of new homes; Theresa May has stated we need to build one million new homes by 2020 – a tough target to meet.
“We have the capability to transform and modernise the way we build houses using modern innovations, including the modular method of construction. I believe that quality, time efficiency and cost effectiveness will all improve in the coming years and the skills required by our workforce will change.
“The industry will hopefully meet demands in growth and numbers but it’s important that it also responds and works harder to make careers in House Building more attractive. In turn, this will ensure the level of passion, talent and determination within the work force is sustained and enhanced.”
Speaking from experience, what is the most valuable piece of advice you would offer someone starting out in the industry?
“Hard work is always rewarded. If you apply yourself, work hard and remain proactive, you’ll reap the benefits in the long run.”