With some flexibility and a lot of forward planning, we have been able to offer online work experience to a number of students.
VGC’s schools programme has continued despite COVID-19. CSR manager Kimberley McGinty is using Zoom, MS Teams, WhatsApp and her phone to replace personal visits.
Since lockdown, we have worked with over 160 students from boroughs all over London and reaching into Kent.
To date during 2020, our schools engagement programme has reached a total of 3,307 students.
Our online programme began in July with work experience to support client SCS. We delivered a week of work experience in collaboration with Murphy’s Construction, followed by our own programmes later. The virtual platforms meant we can still engage with students and give them important insights into the construction industry.
During September, we hosted a student from HACS.
William, who has autism, was excited about the prospect of work experience. In planning the week, Kimberley liaised closely with support worker Katherine Eaton to ensure the experience was a positive one.
After arranging the week’s sessions, she held a virtual meeting the week before, with William, Katherine, head of HR Laura Perry and marketing manager Zena Wigram. This gave him a chance to meet them before he logged on the following week. She described the timetable, and explained how the virtual classroom would work. William could call on her at any time if he encountered any problems.
William’s work experience included data entry, corporate branding, and producing a pie chart from HR data in Microsoft Excel. He said:
Thank you to Kimberley, Laura, Zena and to Katherine for arranging everything so well. I learned how to organise my time efficiently and I learned about the importance of time management.
If there was another person who wanted to do work experience, I would tell them that VGC is an ideal place for them to work. This is because the staff are very friendly and supportive and will always try to accommodate them in whatever way they can.
I was a little tired afterwards, but it was a very interesting week. I would definitely like to do some more work experience with VGC if I can.
Image: William and Kimberley on an online call.
Cole Hire is also hosting a local special educational needs student. Jack, who attends Oaklands School, joined in October. Supported by vehicle preparation officer Eddie Long and his job coach, Yanna Gancheva, he visits once a week, helping to keep the vans clean, and the site tidy.
October half term
During the October half term, Kimberley arranged a group work experience for 15-17 year-olds.
15 students from across Hillingdon, Ealing, Lambeth and Slough took part in the week.
The sessions included ice-breakers, an introduction into construction, and their preconceptions about our industry.
“I amazed by their knowledge and the background work they had done,” said Kimberley. “Some of them were interested in the industry, and others didn’t know what they want to do. They said it was a good use of their time while they couldn’t go anywhere during the pandemic – what a great attitude to have!”
Read more about VGC’s work with schools and young people.