From education to employment

Exeter College and Kier Host Work Experience Week in Construction Industry

Exeter College and Kier recently teamed up to deliver an intensive one week, pre-Apprenticeship work experience programme, designed to give local youngsters an insight into the construction industry and inspire them to pursue a career in the varied and vibrant sector. 

Six learners who are considering the Apprenticeship route with Exeter College spent the week gaining knowledge and insight, as well as hands on experience behind the scenes with Kier at some of the company’s flagship developments.

The week kickstarted with health and safety training and a test for Construction Skills Certification, which ensures that anyone on site has the necessary training to do the work they are required to. The work experience team visited both St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Centre and St Loyes Extra Care Home, which are both being built to the environmental sustainability Passivhaus Standard.

Also, during their time with Kier, the group visited the recently completed Clifford House student accommodation building for the University of Exeter where they were set real-life challenges to understand the various stages of a project. The week culminated in a CV workshop and mock interviews, providing the students with essential skills for the future.

Kier Regional Building Western and Wales Corporate and Social Responsibility Manager, Kate Ellis, stated: “We were delighted to welcome the group onto our sites to gain valuable experience that will help them in their future career. During their time with us, we set them the task of designing and building a hotel within a limited time frame. The exercise illustrated the full scope of construction projects, from conception and planning, through to completion and handover. It made the students think outside the box and challenged them to find solutions to ensure business objectives and deadlines would be met.”

Kate continued: “We have received some really positive feedback from the students and parents alike and would like to thank everyone who helped support the students on their week’s work experience.”

Mike Blakeley, Director of Apprenticeships and Employer Engagement at Exeter College, said: “There is a real shortage of skilled trades people and construction professionals and so an initiative like this is essential in educating youngsters on the jobs out there that suit their skills and gives them a true flavour of the working world. Offering a well-structured introduction to the industry hopefully reinforces their desire to pursue a career and means we can capture them early on in their journey.

One of the students said, “It was really interesting learning about the site where a hotel was being constructed out of shipment containers,” with another confirming that the experience had inspired them to work for Kier in the future.

The college and Kier are already planning their next placement week, which will build on the great success of this trial.

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