Budding Brunels with Balfour Beatty and Manchester Smart Motorways

We recently delivered a 3 day construction careers workshop to students in Manchester with Balfour Beatty and Manchester Smart Motorways.

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.

Aimed at students aged 16 to 18, this particular course focussed on professional careers associated with development works on the M60 and M62 smart motorway scheme and the new engineering department being built at Manchester University.

Day 1 of the course was based at Manchester Smart Motorways (MSM) and included an introduction to MSM and the work taking place. The students then participated in a bridge building exercise – a task to get them thinking logically about the plan, design and build stages of a project. They were then assessed and given valuable feedback by staff working on the smart motorway. In the afternoon the students engaged in a public consultation role play activity to encourage them to appreciate construction from stakeholders who are potentially impacted in a by the MSM development.

Day 2 was based at the University of Manchester where the students heard from the Balfour Beatty project team to understand the project in more depth. The group then engaged in an industry networking activity with volunteers from Balfour Beatty and MSM which allowed them to gain an understanding of a variety of job roles, progression routes, skills and experiences within a construction context. The day concluded with an overview of the Manchester University Engineering Campus Development.


On the last day the students spent the morning in a presentation skills workshop and then gave their group presentations to a panel of industry professionals which consolidated everything they had learned in the past 2 days.

The afternoon kicked off with a tour of the live site at the Engineering Campus Development which they had learnt about the previous day. For the rest of the afternoon the students took part in an interview skills workshop as preparation for their industry-led interviews. The day concluded with volunteers conducting formal interviews with the students whilst Construction Youth Trust staff oversaw Open College Network London handbook completions.

As a result of the programme ten students were selected for a week-long work placement with Balfour Beatty, MSM or their supply chain, taking place in the school holidays.

We run the Budding Brunels course on a regular basis during term time and welcome potential corporate partners, schools or students to get in touch if they are interested in finding out more. Find upcoming courses here.