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Building prospects for Sheffield’s future

Youngsters from Chaucer School and Sheffield Park Academy at the launch of the project with Master Cutler, Nicholas Cragg (front).

Youngsters enrolled on a course to learn skills for work managed to complete the course just ahead of the Covid 19 lock down and have graduated with flying colours.

Year 10 students from Chaucer School and Sheffield Park Academy, took part in the Better Learners Better Workers (BLBW) Construction and Built Environment Programme. It was designed to show those approaching their GCSEs the career options available in the building industry.

As part of the year long construction led programme – sponsored by Sheffield Housing Company (SHC) – the pupils visited SHC developments in Manor, to learn about the latest working methods and the type of jobs available in the built environment. They spent time with architects, planning officers, site teams and sales staff and attended workshops focusing on the job application process, team building and other transferable skills, including communication, resilience and critical thinking.

BLBW launched in 2010 when the Cutlers’ Company, which represents top engineering and manufacturing employers in Sheffield City Region, undertook a study with Sheffield City Council into what employers needed from school leavers. The programme started with an engineering sector focus and expanded to cover other sectors of critical importance to the regional economy, including construction.

SHC – a joint venture between Sheffield City Council, private sector construction partner Keepmoat Homes and Great Places Housing Group – is helping to address the growing skills shortage in the sector and has supported 70 aprenticeships and created 845 jobs since it started building in 2012.

Sheffield Park Academy students Jack Waller, 16, from Manor; Ashley Stewart, 16, from Woodthorpe and Ebony Jackson, 15, from Darnall; all graduated from the BLBW scheme and found it extremely informative.

Jack said: “I have always been interested in a career in construction but this course offered me the opportunity to learn more and to get ahead of the game when it comes to understanding the roles, requirements and possibilities the industry offers.

“I didn’t realise there was such a large team of people working on construction projects – it’s not just those on site everyday – and it was fascinating to see how well these teams work to move the job forward. I was particularly interested in the land acquisition process.”

Ashley added: “Before the course, I wouldn’t have had a clue about how to prepare for a career in construction but I now feel confident and understand what is involved. I am now thinking about starting an apprenticeship after school, as the idea of watching something you are working on grow and become a completed building that people use or live in, really appeals to me.”

Ebony said: “I always thought that jobs in construction were for men but I enrolled on the course to challenge myself by taking on something that was out of my comfort zone.

“I was fascinated to see how many opportunities the industry has to offer on and off site. I was particularly interested in the planning and finance roles that we learned about and this is certainly something I would consider in the future.”

BLBW operates across South Yorkshire, focusing on specific industry sectors, so young people can follow their interests. A second cohort of students is lined up to take part as soon as the restrictions on social distancing are lifted.

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