Students discover alternative careers in the builders and merchants’ sector through our Hidden Careers session

Pimlico Academy’s Year 9 students had the opportunity to discover different roles in the builders and merchants’ sector in our Hidden Careers session.

Our Hidden Careers session aims to challenge stereotypes surrounding jobs in the construction and the built environment and to inspire the next generation entering the world of work as part of The Maddie Rose Campaign. A group of 20 students worked in small groups and engaged with industry professionals through an activity where they were able to ask only yes or no questions to gain as much information as possible to try and guess the volunteers’ roles. Afterwards, each volunteer revealed whether the students guessed correctly, and outlined their career journey to provide insight into their day-to-day work life and pathway into industry.

Volunteers from Heyne Tillet Steel, Mace Group and Travis Perkins worked with one group of students, who enjoyed speaking to a structural engineer, site manager and health and safety advisor. The young people were surprised to learn about such varied roles within the industry and how the different roles can overlap. The volunteers also spoke about the different routes into the construction sector, such as apprenticeships, work placements and university. Many of the students learnt about apprenticeships for the first time, and how they can be an alternative pathway into the industry with university not the only way to get a good job in construction!

Builders’ Merchant Journal and Builders’ Merchant Federation volunteers also joined us for the Hidden Careers session. The students were particularly interested in learning about office-based jobs in the construction industry, such as the roles of community and skills manager as well as a managing editor of a industry-focussed magazine, as many of them had not heard of these types of positions before. Finding out about these types of roles challenged the young people’s perception that all work in the construction industry is dirty, male dominated and involves physical labour.

“I really enjoyed taking part in the Hidden Careers session. The young people were really engaged and interested in everything the volunteers had to say. They asked lots of questions and managed to work out my hidden career quite quickly, by asking the right questions. In the second part of the session, the design of the new building, it was interesting to see how the young people worked together and what matters to them in terms of their built environment. Sustainability and energy management all formed a key part of all the groups’ designs, as did food, so it’s clear what motivates them. They did really well and seemed to get a lot out of it.” – Fiona, Group Managing Editor at Builders Merchants Journal.

The two sessions lead onto a ‘Building Design Challenge’ where students worked in small teams to design a building for an inner London site. As part of the task, they were asked to consider what the building would look like, its purpose and how it could be made sustainable. The industry professionals were able to provide their expertise to help the young people during the challenge, for instance, the structural engineer helped the young people think about the shape and materials of the building. At the end of the session, the students presented their designs to a panel of industry volunteers.

We are incredibly grateful to all the volunteers for taking part, inspiring students and helping to challenge the stereotypes of the types of roles available in the construction industry. We are delighted that our students were able to gain an insight into the sector and investigate a range of careers they had never considered before and hope these sessions will inspire diverse young talent to think about a career in the construction industry.

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