virtual work experience

45 students joined VGC for an “inspiring” Easter holiday virtual work experience.

They described the week as “a fantastic opportunity”, saying it was “very worthwhile” and “fun”.

From 12 to 16 April, students logged in each day to talk to a range of different people from across the company and industry. The speakers explained how construction projects come together, and described their own roles and career paths. The students also enjoyed a virtual site tour and group activities such as planning a road-building contract. For safeguarding reasons, they had their cameras off throughout. However they rose to the challenge of remote collaboration to work successfully together in groups, and commented on how much they’d enjoyed meeting each other.

Supporting young people

Young people’s education has been hard hit by the pandemic. We want to support young people, and help them to prepare for their future careers. Before COVID our very successful schools programme was all delivered face-to-face, and we have had to be agile to deliver sessions in a new way. By going online, we’ve found we can provide more opportunities to students across a broader geographical area. Students from across the UK, including Newcastle, Blackpool, Birmingham and Kent, joined us for the week.

Virtual work experience April 2021
Virtual work experience speakers – top row (L to R): Kimberley McGinty; Rebecca Parfitt; Ciara Pryce, chief operating officer – second row: Jonathan Compton, Skanska head of stakeholder, customer and communications; Joe Roper, Balfour Beatty section engineer; Patrick Alexander, IT consultant; – bottom row: Mark Davies, financial controller; Dan Tymon, quantity surveyor; Bihesh Patel, senior recruitment consultant

Virtual sessions also give students access to people who carry out a diverse range of roles within the industry. Contributors included VGC staff and representatives from clients Costain, Skanska and Balfour Beatty. As well as those pictured right, students talked to

  • head of HSQE Richard Wheeler
  • delivery manager James Burke
  • Costain section engineer Joshua Stansfield, working on Tideway east.

CSR manager Kimberley McGinty managed the course, supported by business support lead Rebecca Parfitt.

Kimberley said: “Thank you to all the speakers for giving up their time. It was lovely to see how the students grew in confidence as the week went on.

“By holding our work experience virtually, we can engage with far more students from right across the UK than we could face-to-face.”

VGC non-executive director Bob Webb said: “Thank you for inviting me to the end-of-course presentations, and well done to Kimberley and Rebecca for organising the virtual school. This must have been a massive challenge, and it was clearly a huge success. It was clear that the students had worked hard during the week and gained a great deal. I was very impressed with the insights into construction they had gleaned from all the presenters.

“As well as the benefits to the students, it is good for our clients to see what we are doing to promote the industry. That some of them participated is an added bonus. Our team members have also benefited from being encouraged to reflect on what and how they do their roles. Some (especially Patrick!) are clearly star material. Thanks again and well done.”

Student feedback included:

  • “I didn’t know there were so many different fields in construction, and the contribution to society made by the different job roles.”
  • “It was really great to have professional workers answer my questions, which is an opportunity you don’t get a lot.”
  • “I’ve seen that a career in construction really is what I want.”
  • “A huge thank you to everyone who has given up their time this week to give us this memorable work experience. Thank you to the guest speakers, and especially Kimberley and Rebecca for making the whole thing possible.”

The April work experience week built on the success of previous virtual work experience sessions, including February’s half term experience. Both weeks were run in conjunction with Speakers for Schools.

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