Virtual work experience showcases construction careers
Empowering Communities partners – HS2, Arup, Costain, Mace Dragados, Skanska, STRABAG, and Network Rail – joined together to run a virtual work experience programme for 47 young people aged 16 to 18 during their February half term.
Following on from the success of previous programmes, the programme was developed to help students develop STEM skills and understand the job opportunities available within the construction industry. Construction partners based in Greater London will collectively recruit over 10,000 new jobs as HS2 gears up for major construction, and HS2 forecast that the project will create at least 2,000 apprenticeships on Phase One.
The week-long programme, facilitated by Skanska Costain STRABAG JV and supported by Mace Dragados and MOLA, was specifically designed to engage groups underrepresented in the construction sector; 29.8% of the intake on the programme were female and 55% were from Black, Asian, and Minority ethnic communities.
Comprised of multiple sessions per day, each with different expert presenters, the programme showcased the variety of job opportunities within the construction industry. The sessions ranged from engineering and tunnelling, to sustainability and the intricacies of traffic management. The variety of topics and the enthusiasm of the presenters meant that each session was met with a stimulating round of questions as students seized the opportunity to pick the brains of the experts.
The personal approach of the presenters throughout the week provided insight into the vastly different interests and routes that lead people into the sector. This was complemented by a talk on the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion, which the students responded to with considerable depth of thought.
Each day ended with a group task, giving students an opportunity to envisage themselves in various industry roles and apply their existing STEM skills to real-life challenges. Producing research questions for an archaeological dig and considering the geological challenges of tunnel design were among the students’ highlights.
Louise Dailly, Head of Social Sustainability at Skanska Costain STRABAG JV, and Chair of the Empowering Communities steering group, said: “Empowering Communities partners are committed to showcasing opportunities for young people in construction and taking action to increase the diversity of our industry. The virtual work experience programme has been a great way to do this despite Coronavirus restrictions, so we can continue to help students see the wide range of jobs available and develop their skills.”
Empowering Communities partners are planning more virtual work experience programmes to take place during school holidays. Please contact us if you’d like to get involved.