Budding Brunels with Argent at King’s Cross: A volunteer’s perspective

Argent and Construction Youth Trust have worked together in King’s Cross over a number of years with the aim of inspiring diverse young talent about career opportunities within the construction industry


Budding Brunels is an Open College Network London (OCN) accredited course that gives young people, from a diverse range of backgrounds, an insight into the Built Environment, and provides industry-led careers advice from professionals in the field. Our aim is to inform students of the variety of careers available within the construction industry and help them improve their employability skills.



This month, Construction Youth Trust, in partnership with Argent, delivered a three-day Budding Brunels programme based at Argent’s King’s Cross development. Twenty three young people (aged 16-17 years old) from schools in Islington and Camden attended the programme, the delivery of which was supported by BAM and Carillion professional volunteers.


Dan Hine, Senior Site Manager at BAM, supported the course on Day 3, giving feedback to each group on their presentation content and performance, before deliberating and declaring an overall winner. We talked to Dan about his Brunels experience:


CYT: Tell us about your decision to volunteer at a Budding Brunels course.

Dan: When the call came in to volunteer for the course, of course I put myself forward. As a site team and a company we try to get involved in these activities as much as is practical. The question was more what would be of most use to the students in terms of my knowledge and experience. 


CYT: What did you find most interesting about the course?

Dan: I was involved with ‘judging’ the Masterplan presentations, as such ‘the end result’ of the course. The wide range of disciplines evident amongst the students and the levels of professionalism were brilliant. It was fascinating how they had divided up their groups, each taking a role and presenting a section to the room. The most common theme throughout was sustainability, a really positive sign for the future of the industry and us all. Most interesting was the range of solutions, each group taking a slightly different angle on the Masterplan, and the focal buildings each having a unique primary use.


CYT: What do you think of students’ presentations? What did you like most?

Dan: I really enjoyed the presentations. There was a clear overall winner amongst the ‘panel’, however the level and standard was exceptional for all of them. I personally really enjoyed the fact that each and every member of the teams brought something to the presentations, some of them clearly pushing themselves past their comfort zone and very bravely delivering their sections. I purposely asked some questions that would push them and they responded well considering their level of experience!


CYT: How would you describe your overall experience?

Dan: Previously when I have been involved in other schemes, it has been apparent that some of the students were ‘going through the motions’ and maybe only attending because they were told too. I have to say that this was not the case with the Budding Brunels. Everyone was fully engaged with the brief and taking it seriously - some more than others! There were some characters, as expected. I enjoyed the process and enjoyed the chance to offer my experience. I just hope it helped and inspired them to carry on further!



CYT: Volunteering at a Budding Brunels course is something you would propose to other construction professionals?

Dan: Without a doubt. We, as an industry generally, struggle to make time for these sorts of things due to the fast pace nature of construction, but it is surprising how much we can offer the up and coming professionals of the future with just a couple of hours of our time. Companies like us at BAM could be inspiring these students and securing some very good colleagues in the years to come! Who knows, one of them could be my boss one day! 

CYT: And what about you? What originally inspired you into the industry when you were a student?

Dan: The draw to construction was evident from a young age. I just knew I wanted to be part of something that would leave a legacy. Being involved in construction and being part of so many projects, now 20 years into my career, I can visit and know I played my part. Construction is very much a team activity and it takes many skills and many people to get right. I was lucky enough to go through a ‘rotational’ scheme with BAM, which meant I could have time in each discipline, commercial, planning, engineering and management. I opted for management.


CYT: Do you think the course inspired students about careers in the industry?

Dan: Absolutely, from the students’ presentations it was clear that they had the spark! When asked questions they responded, but not just mechanically, they seemed to really think about it! The level of thought put into each and every groups work clearly showed that they cared about the brief. The work Budding Brunels do is invaluable to the industry, an industry that is crying out for new fresh talent!


We would like to thank Dan and all the volunteers for supporting the delivery of the Budding Brunels courses!


You can find more about Budding Brunels here