Virtual construction site helps students gain new skills

We're proud to support our contractors ENGIE to deliver a pioneering virtual work experience programme for local students.

Lockdown hasn't stopped Rochdale students from getting a taste of a career in construction thanks to a pioneering work experience programme run by ENGIE as part of their work with us in central Rochdale.

ENGIE have been on site in Lower Falinge since March 2020 to deliver 55 new RBH houses and low-rise apartments as well as new community green space. These homes are a key part of our wider masterplan, developed together with the community, to deliver the right quality and mix of homes for residents in Rochdale town centre.

As part of this partnership, both RBH and ENGIE are committed to delivering additional social value for the local community. With health and safety being an overriding priority, unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic means that on-site work experience is not currently possible. Not to be deterred, ENGIE developed a week long programme of virtual work experience to enable eight local students from Hopwood Hall College to get a taste of a career in construction.

The virtual work experience programme was designed to provide a wide view of the skills required and the pathways available for a career in construction. This included site management, construction skills, health and safety, and commercial and quantity surveying. The students had to complete tasks that they may otherwise not have encountered if they were on site. The week culminated in a session focused on employability including a mock interview with individual feedback to help students to build their confidence.

Due to COVID-19, we recognised that people were missing out on the opportunity to gain vital work experience on site. In order to combat this, we adapted our offer into a one week virtual work experience. The students at Hopwood Hall College took part in activities from various professions and received input from people they may not necessarily interact with if they were out on site. We feel this broader look at construction as a whole will inspire people to think about the many different career opportunities thaat there are in the construction industry.

Paul Vicario ENGIE Community Engagement Officer

The students really made a positive impression and it was clear that that they were eager to learn more about the industry. They all reported improved skills in areas such as problem solving, confidence, and job readiness at the end of the experience - as well as gaining new insights into the world of construction.

Our plans for Rochdale town centre are about people, not bricks and mortar, so we're really proud to be able to work with our construction partners ENGIE to deliver these great opportunities for local young people. This is just one example of how we're delivering additional social value by working with businesses who share our values, not just in Rochdale town centre but all across the Borough.

Clare Tostevin RBH Director of Growth
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