My experience as a Central Resources Intern at the Year 10 Work Experience Programme

Have a read of what our Central Resources intern Maya thought about her week supporting the Year 10 Work Experience programme!

 

One of my favourite things about my role as a Central Resources Intern is the insight I get into the inner workings across the Trust, so when I was invited to come along to see the week-long Year 10 Work Experience Programme being delivered at Deptford Green School, I was naturally very excited!

The Year 10 Work Experience Programme simulates real-life work experience within a classroom setting. The programme aims to build the young people’s self-confidence after COVID and acquire the skills needed to make their next step transitioning into a real work environment. Two classes were split into construction companies of 6 members each, and each member of the company was assigned a different job title: Site Manager, Project Manager, Marketing Manager, Design Manager, Engineer, or Architect. In their companies, they planned and built their own community centre based on a brief delivered to them by a client, which they then presented to the end of the week, aiming to be the winning company to clinch the contract!

Every decision that the team made, from the colour of the door to the material used for the patio, they had to justify to the client, and it was great to see the young people putting real thought into assessing what would work best for the site. I really liked watching the teams work together to make decisions and come up with solutions to challenges. Naturally, team members won’t always agree on everything all of the time, even within a real construction company. When disagreements arose, the young people listened to their peers’ different ideas and negotiated an outcome that would work best for everyone, just like true professionals!

Throughout the week, there were a number of challenges that the companies had to face, as is always the case when planning and building a construction site. For example, the Marketing Managers wrote letters to members of their community to reassure their concerns about the site being built in their local area, and the Engineers chose the most efficient source of power for their site whilst maintaining their commitments to sustainability. The biggest challenge was undoubtedly the big mid-week crisis, when the client came in frantically exclaiming that she didn’t want the colour red on the building site at all, and that an endangered bird’s nest had been found in a tree that was right in the centre of the plotted land!

 

 

What I really enjoyed about watching the teams tackle the challenges was the variety of different approaches they took to resolving the same issue. Faced with the dilemma of the tree with the endangered bird’s nest, one team decided to reshape their building to be built around the tree, whilst another team chose to incorporate the tree into their building as part of an indoor garden area. The critical thinking that the students showed was remarkable, and it got the teams to realise that these types of problems are always expected to arise in the construction industry, so being flexible about their plans and being able to creatively problem-solve is an essential requirement for their role.

The volunteers were brilliant in advising the young people of what they would do in their situation based on their own real-life experience of working in that job-role. They gave the young people a lot to consider about their project that they otherwise wouldn’t have thought about – “Is your building disability-friendly?”; “How can you make the site Carbon Neutral?”; “How will you attract people from across generations to come to your centre?”.  The young people also asked fantastic questions to the volunteers about what it's like to work in the construction sector and their own journeys into the industry.

I think the biggest takeaway for the students was recognising the skills they already had and realising how transferrable they are to a workplace setting. The growth in confidence I saw between Day 1 to Day 5 was astounding, as with the support of Construction Youth Trust staff and the volunteers, the young began to find and celebrate their individual talents. During their presentations to the client at the end of the week, they were beaming with pride for the culmination of all their hard-work and skills!

Overall, I really enjoyed my week at the Year 10 Work Experience programme. It was such a positive experience to see the development of character in the young people over the course of five days. As a Central Resources Intern, a lot of my role requires me to work behind-the-scenes at the Trust, so it was an interesting change to be on the frontline and watch the incredible impact that we make on young people first-hand! For me, it reinforced the importance of the programmes we run at the Trust, and demonstrated the real difference it makes to y