Interior designer, Sian ‘steps up’ to work at LHC

LHC has been happy to join other names in the construction sector this year to support the Step In Step Up programme, which aims to combat the skills shortage in the industry, especially in the south west. Partners include Kier, Midas, ISG, BAM, Linden and Galliford Try, together with South Devon College.

Sian Crayford, one of the first intake onto the programme, is now employed by LHC. She was interviewed about her experience:

When Sian joined the Step In Step Up project, she had recently graduated with a degree in Interior Design, which gave her a range of skills which would be easily transferred into the construction sector.  She had developed her skills and experience since graduation through a part time job in retail and extensive travel.  She was keen to explore the different avenues available to her in construction which would use her skills and experience.

She wanted to access the work experience in the project as she felt it would give her the chance to try out a new career without the responsibility of a full time paid role.  She was offered work experience for two days a week with the architectural consultant, LHC Architecture + Urbanism ; this enabled her to continue her three day per week retail job at the same time. LHC enabled her to upgrade her skills in CAD and other software applications which had changed since her experiences at university.  Gradually, she began doing more responsible work similar to paid employees, so the company decided that they should pay her for the work she was doing.  She was then taken on in a permanent role for three days per week as the office became busier.  Because she was receiving a higher wage than for her retail job, she was able to give that up and concentrate on her role with LHC – an arrangement which has been good for both parties. As Sian put it:

“The project has suited me well – it’s provided me with the chance to build my confidence, and given me a job I love.” 

Mark Daley, Director of LHC explained,

“The arrangement with Sian has great benefits, both for her and for us”, .  “She has the flexibility to offer extra hours if we need them, and she has the three day per week job that she wanted.  It’s ironic that we became partners in the project because we wanted to offer work experience and shadowing both to the participants and to other partners, but didn’t expect to take on any permanent employees.  Sian’s transferable skills have proved very valuable to us, and we’ve been able to support her in further training.”