We were delighted when Space Studio Banbury invited The Apprenticeship & Training Company to take part in their Aspirations Employability Portfolio (AEP) programme for Year 12 students. The AEP gives students the opportunity to work with businesses on industry-commissioned projects, tackling real workplace challenges and gaining valuable skills and experience to help them prepare for the world of work.
The challenge we set our team of students was to plan, organise and run a construction careers event for Key Stage 4 students at Space Studio and Banbury Academy. The aim of the event was to raise awareness of the wide variety of jobs and career pathways in the construction industry by giving them the opportunity to talk to and hear from a number of different employers and take part in hands-on activities and workshops to get a feel for some of the job roles.
Working with us, our students researched and approached local construction employers and training providers and put together a programme of activities, taking into account the amount of time that each employer could commit and the type of activity they could offer.
We have designed a survey to capture young people’s perceptions of construction and our project team ran this with Year 10 students to give us an idea of the level of interest in construction careers before the event. They also surveyed students to find out which of the activities on offer they would be most interested in taking part in.
Over 300 Year 10 and 11 students attended the event, which took place on 6th March, during National Careers Week. They took part in workshops run by Hawkins Group, Skanska, Digi Design, Sanctuary Housing, Cherwell District Council, and Bouyges. Banbury based carpentry contractor, LJ Construction, were on hand to talk with students as part of an information fair, along with Cherwell District Council’s Planning team and representatives from the Build! project.
Colleen Eccles, Head of Development at Sanctuary Housing, worked with a group of students to create a blueprint for a new housing development, exploring all the different skills needed to ensure that future homes are fit for diverse family groups and happy neighbourhoods. She said: “The young people thought broadly about their skills and without exception started to realise that they all had unique ideas and talents that would be valuable in the construction and development industry. We explored how design, marketing, drawing, environment, research, art, social skills, problem solving, enterprise, technology, painting, building skills, partnerships, families, language, music and humour all had a part to play in developing successful and happy neighbourhoods. Without the young people’s input I would have never been able to think so broadly about the neighbourhood they wanted to help build. It was refreshing and exciting and I hope that it helped them appreciate just what they have to offer when they enter their own future careers.”
Students had the opportunity to take part in Trade School – a hands-on bricklaying experience run by Witney-based building firm Wain & Francis Ltd. Electrical contractor Clarkson Evans challenged them with an electrical wiring activity and specialist construction college ACE Training gave them the chance to try carpentry for size by making tealight holders. Our Lego challenge proved popular, with students competing to see who could build the tallest tower in 30 seconds.
As part of their project, our AEP team collected feedback from the event to obtain students’ views. This revealed that 29% of students had changed their opinion of construction following the event and that 24% are more likely to consider a career in construction as a result. The survey of Year 10 students prior to the event showed that only 3% of students were interested in a career in construction, so we were really pleased to see that the event had helped to open their minds to opportunities that they may not have previously have considered in such an important and growing sector.
See some photos from the event on our Facebook page.