London students meet Rail Infrastructure leaders to learn about careers in the industry

We recently joined forces with rail infrastructure organisations across London to deliver a pilot Budding Brunels programme funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

 The programme aimed to raise young people’s awareness of the breadth of professional and technical career opportunities available within the sector by offering a chance to meet with industry professionals, visit live sites and take part in work experience placements .

The partnership was developed with representatives from Network Rail, Transport for London, High Speed Two (HS2) and Crossrail Limited following a round table discussion around the main challenges facing the sector in terms of employment, skills shortages and corporate social responsibility. With already established relationships in place, it was decided a joined up delivery approach could work well to assist all organisations and offer an industry-wide approach to tackling schools’ outreach.

Budding Brunels is a schools engagement programme aimed at students from diverse backgrounds or schools with a high percentage of students on free school meals. It aims to inform and inspire them about professional opportunities available within the built environment.  The programme brings together students with industry ambassadors to showcase the array of career paths and opportunities available to them following their mainstream education.

The pilot, which coincided with Tomorrow’s Engineer’s Week and the industry’s #BuildingBritain campaign, supported 20 Level 3 students from sixth forms and colleges across London through the Open College Network (OCN) accredited course. The Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation hosted the first day, and students had the chance to interact with a variety of industry professionals currently working on rail projects in London including London Underground and HS2, with an introductory presentation from the Young Railway Professionals. The students also took part in teambuilding activities and games focused on raising awareness of key issues in the sector.

Network Rail hosted the second day of the programme which saw the students on a site tour of Old Oak Common Paddington Approach: the central transport hub that will link national rail lines with Crossrail and HS2. This experience provided students with the opportunity to see how a live construction site works, the range of roles involved and how health and safety is managed. In addition to this, Network Rail ran a group workshop focussed on station design to complement the site visit.

Day three was hosted by HS2 in their offices in Canary Wharf. The students spent the morning developing their employability skills through giving presentations and practicing mock interviews, culminating in more formal interviews in the afternoon. A minimum of 5 students will join HS2, TfL and Network Rail for work experience placements in 2015.

The Trust will continue to work with rail infrastructure in London in 2015 to further build upon the industry-led approach to filling future skills shortages through awareness raising workshops.

Michael Somaan, a student on the project, said: “The course was helpful and interesting, and every day we learnt something new. The course has changed my view of construction because I realised there is a more technical side to construction than I thought, and there is a lot of hard work and planning involved. I can now see myself working as a civil engineer in the future.”

Christine Townley Executive Director of Construction Youth Trust commented: “We are extremely pleased to be working so closely with CITB and rail infrastructure organisations such as Network Rail, TfL, HS2, and Crossrail.   We hope that this collaboration has inspired even more young people about careers in the built environment and specifically the exciting future of rail in the UK.”

Scott-James Eley, HS2 Skills and Employment Manager, said: “We are delighted to join forces with Construction Youth Trust and other rail infrastructure organisations to deliver this series of Budding Brunels workshops. Through engaging with young people early on in their careers we hope to inspire a new generation of young women and men to develop the skills that will be vital to work on the design, construction and operation of HS2.

“We are looking forward to welcoming our students to join us at HS2 for their work experience and to help them to prepare themselves for the world of work.”

Eleshia Potgieter, Programme Support Manager at TfL, said:  “Budding Brunels is not only a brilliant programme but essential to supporting industry efforts to inspire young people into a career in engineering and construction”