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Empowering Communities launches “I SEE ME” scheme

Empowering Communities has set the ball rolling on I SEE ME, a new campaign designed to develop young people’s interest in construction and STEM by learning from industry role models who reflect their backgrounds.

This is the latest initiative launched by the partners behind the 10-year social legacy programme – Arup, Costain, HS2, Mace Dragados, Network Rail, Skanska and forms part of their ambition to attract young people from the seven London boroughs along the HS2 route to careers in construction.

The scheme will be supported by a pool of speakers, from the Empowering Communities partners, that reflects the diversity of the seven boroughs.

Speakers run workshops with school children – virtually or in the classroom – formed of interactive presentations, worksheets, short videos, Q&As and practical activities. Each workshop involves speakers discussing their background and paths into construction, and highlighting the wide range of opportunities available within the industry.

The skills, education lead for Area East at the Skanska Costain STRABAG joint venture, Rosemarie O’ Donnell who came up with the initiative, highlighted how I SEE ME responds to the needs of the local area:

The concept came from talking to schools, who felt that a lot of the role models children saw in the curriculum weren’t representative of their own backgrounds.

Empowering Communities is organising sessions with schools across the seven boroughs around the project, with each session adapted for different age groups. One recent event at a primary school in Camden ended with Year 4 children enthusiastically taking to a spaghetti-based building activity, asking questions about materials, processes and safety.

Rosemarie also hopes I SEE ME will also have a big impact on older students. “We are going to be one of the major employers in the area for a long time, so we want to build young people’s knowledge of construction, STEM and engineering,” she says. “Hopefully some of the teenagers we’re talking to now will go on to our graduate programmes.”

A couple examples of the spaghetti-based building activity.