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I’ve done a lot of work in my time talking about careers in construction to kids in schools, and helping out at STEM promotion events; but it is a real challenge to convince someone to enter the industry when they’ll have to do years of training before they’ll even get a chance to try it. That’s why schemes like the fantastically named “Budding Brunels” are so great, as they make a career in construction accessible and engaging through practical, tangible, experiences. – Ed.
Budding Brunels is a schools engagement programme run by Construction Youth Trust, a charity aimed at informing and inspiring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds about higher education and career options within the construction industry. The Open College Network accredited programme gives students a unique chance to gain first-hand knowledge of how the industry works as well as the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
You don’t comprehend it when you’re sitting in a school or college and trying to study, you comprehend it when you see it in front of your eyes.
So how do we inform and inspire these students? A great example of how our programme works can be found in our latest initiative we’ve started with Network Rail this year, which we’re very excited about. As part of Network Rail’s work with Crossrail, we will be delivering an extended Budding Brunels programme called Budding Brunels Rail, working with students and communities that neighbour the overground sections of the Crossrail line in East and West London. This will include a series of our standard three-day workshops and further ‘bitesize’ opportunities to maintain engagement with young people interested in the industry.
Our Executive Director Christine Townley commented about the new project:
“This exciting programme is designed to engage with 1000 young people over the year, inspiring the next generation of commuters to be the next generation of constructors. Network Rail’s work on the Crossrail project will see huge changes in the communities we’re working in – we’re proud to be working for positive change together”
The key initiatives of the programme will take the form of our three-day workshops, which are always based around a construction project. In the past, students have visited the Aquatics Centre at the former Olympic Park, and the Leadenhall building in the city; but as this is a rail focused programme students will be visiting the construction works taking place along the Crossrail line, including Acton Mainline Station, Abbey Wood Station and the fly-over being built in Stockley.
Over the years many of our beneficiaries have gone on to become Trust ambassadors and with the Budding Brunels Rail programme.
We have already run the first Budding Brunels Rail workshop with great success. Eighteen students from Brentside High School and EHWL College visited Imperial College London where the course began with a talk from the head of the Department for Civil and Environmental Engineering and interactive presentations by Network Rail staff. This is an important part of the project as the advice comes directly from the industry and students are introduced to a range of roles including some that they may never have considered, or associated with construction! Students took part in activities centred on the STEM subjects – a favourite is the spaghetti marshmallow challenge where participants build a structure that will hold with no other support and try and make it as tall as possible!
Students were given tours around the Crossrail Acton dive-under site and taught how to use a dumpy level and a theodolite, while learning how health and safety is managed. This is usually the day that the students enjoy the most, as it’s completely different to any experience that they would normally have!
Tushant, a Budding Brunels Rail student said:
Today was an excellent experience – the site visit and activities. You felt like an actual worker on the site. You don’t comprehend it when you’re sitting in a school or college and trying to study, you comprehend it when you see it in front of your eyes
The final day was held at the University of London Union where students delivered presentations on their experiences of the site tours and pitched advertising campaigns to encourage young people into the rail industry. They then took part in interviews with Network Rail representatives, with those students who performed well going on to do work experience placements.
After the three days we have to say goodbye to the students but we keep in touch with them updating them on any further opportunities. Over the years many of our beneficiaries have gone on to become Trust ambassadors and with the Budding Brunels Rail programme we’re creating an alumni – ‘Crossrail Club’ – in order to formalise post-project contact and maintain a more regular dialogue with the beneficiaries.
The Budding Brunels programme has grown rapidly from when it first began in 2010 and 2014 is set to be one of our busiest years! If you are interested in getting involved, or want more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 467 9540.
We recently made a film about our work at the Trust which includes footage of our first Budding Brunels Rail course: