The Construction Youth Trust, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Skanska recently partnered to host an event to inspire young people into a career in the built environment through a series of presentations, meetings and mock job interviews.
A group of 18 sixth form students from schools in the Borough attended the three-day course to gain insights to a variety of core careers in the industry, such as engineers, surveyors, architects and project managers. They saw some of the modern methods of construction and were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the K1 project, a landmark mixed-use development on the corner of Brompton Road and Sloane Street which will be bringing retail and office space along with 35 homes and a new rooftop restaurant.
The young people also met some of the Skanska workforce to learn just how the construction industry now is different from the out-of-date image it still has with many people. The A-level students were also given information about higher level and degree apprenticeships in the area, the “earn and learn” alternative to full-time study at a university.
On the third day, they split into teams for a Dragons Den-style presentation, to a panel including local Cllr Catherine Faulks, the project manager of the K1 development and the head of communication at CapCo. They also took part in mock interviews, and those most inspired by their experience at the event will be offered work placement with Skanska or other Construction Youth Trust partners.
One of those attending, 17-year-old Sophia from Chelsea Academy, says: “Over the three days, I’ve learned about the numerous career paths within construction. Meeting with the various professionals and discussing their responsibilities highlighted the diversity in this sector, which I had been completely unaware of before. For me, the most enjoyable aspect of the course was working on the project and delivering the presentation on it. Everyone did as much as they could to showcase a professional proposal and it really paid off.”
Carol Lynch, CEO of Construction Youth Trust, comments: “We’re delighted to have given this group of students an inspiring insight into the built environment sector. Construction is all too often seen as an industry of last resort for young people, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a huge breadth of exciting, aspirational professional careers offered by our industry, as well as entry routes that enable young people to gain a degree without getting into debt. Thank you to both the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Skanska for their support in running this project to help young people widen their career horizon.”
Cllr Catherine Faulks, Kensington and Chelsea lead member for skills and enterprise, says: “It was so impressive to listen to all the students as they presented to us. I am delighted that we have been involved in helping to provide such an exciting opportunity to the students. And I want to thank them and their schools for the support in entering this project and I sure we have seen some future stars of the architect and engineering world.”
Construction Youth Trust was set up 50 years ago and continues to work with young people to inspire them about careers in the construction industry through practical courses, meeting existing professionals and work experience. It sees this as a crucial way to tackle a skills shortage that could go from bad to worse: a recent survey saw that while 10% of the UK’s workforce is in construction, only 3% of 18- to 24-year-olds have ever searched for a job in the industry, with nearly three-quarters of careers advisors not confident in providing advice on construction careers. There are estimates that the industry will need to recruit 400,000 people annually to keep up with construction targets.