With many in the industry seeing promoting work in construction and housebuilding to the young an essential part of tackling the skills crisis in the long term, David Wilson Homes South Midlands is setting a good example.
The team recently invited pupils from Thrapston Primary School in Northamptonshire to visit local development The Nurseries to learn first-hand about the work involved and site safety. Site manager Gary DuPille arranged the project to demonstrate to the youngsters the variety of jobs the industry offers.
Some 90 children came to the scheme in three groups and he showed the visitors the range of work involved in building a home, the skills needed and how it all fitted together to complete a new house. He also took them on a tour of the site so they could meet some of the construction team and ask them questions about what they do.
The children were also warned about some of the dangers faced by those working onsite, and what was done to protect them. The visit ended with a Q&A session with DuPille himself, where he explained ways to get into housebuilding in different roles.
Ceri Hannah, a Year 5 teacher at the school, says: “The children and adults all had a great time looking around The Nurseries on Friday, learning lots of things about the building industry and even having a go at bricklaying, which they loved! Mr DuPille and all of the David Wilson employees we met were fantastic with the class.”
John Dillon, managing director at David Wilson Homes South Midlands, said: “We’re always on the look-out for the homebuilders of the future, and we wanted to give local students a glimpse of what it’s like to work on a new homes development like The Nurseries. These visits are also a good way to teach local students all about the dangers of playing on building sites, whilst promoting the importance of staying safe at all times – particularly over the school holidays. We hope that the students at Thrapston Primary School had a good day with our team and that they all took away some useful information.”
The company’s interaction with local schoolchildren isn’t limited to onsite visits. It also recently worked with Ecton Village Primary Academy, a few miles south-west of Wellingborough, and set up a competition for the youngsters to design a health and safety for The Wickets, a site in the nearby village of Earls Barton.
A panel from the housebuilder team judged all the entries and picked ten-year-old Kaitlyn as the winner, impressed by her use of colour and imagery to highlight the hazards of a building site, and the information she put on it. She was presented with a £25 book token by marketing manager Anthony Richardson and her entry will now be displayed at the devlopment’s marketing suite.
Jason Hearn, sales director at David Wilson Homes South Midlands, comments: “We would like to thank all of the pupils for participating in our poster competition. After receiving such high-quality entries, we can see the children strongly understand the value of health and safety and we’re very pleased to have worked with the school on this project.”
Kate Cleaver, the principal at Ecton Village Primary Academy, says: “The children were really excited to be working with David Wilson Homes. Many of the children who attend our school travel past the site, so they are aware of the new development. We used this as a learning opportunity to teach the children about the dangers of building sites and to work on their design skills, linking the activity to many areas of the school curriculum. The quality of the work they produced was excellent and we are really proud of Kaitlyn’s achievement.”
David Wilson Homes runs its Building Buddies Award, where it sets a range of challenges to participating schools throughout the year. Pupils work on different projects that cover topics such as planning, sales and marketing, design and technical, and construction skills. The housebuilder offers prizes to winners of each project and a trophy to each school taking part.