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Students learn about super sewer through virtual work experience

With many UK schools remaining closed due to the lockdown, several Tideway teams have turned to technology as a creative way to engage young people and get them thinking about their future careers.

Over the past month, Tom Lane and Lilia Frunzo from the Skills and Employment team on the western section of the project have delivered two week-long virtual work experience sessions to students of London area schools.

Working in collaboration with both the Construction Youth Trust and Class of Your Own, an educational organisation which helps link employers to local schools – Tom and Lilia reached out to a number of their contacts at west London schools as well as further afield as far away as Walthamstow.

The students were tasked with working together to complete a project, and, as the sessions took place online, were encouraged to think outside the box for creative ways to present their projects – including 3D drawings and filmed presentations, alongside a written report.

The students also had the opportunity to speak to a number of volunteers on Tideway to learn more about the project and to give them some inspiration.

Lilia Frunzo said: “The work experience sessions have been really well received by the students. Not only are they getting a taste of what a career in construction might be like, it also takes them one step closer to realising their aspirations by giving them a certificate from a recognised awarding body that they can put on their CV”.

She added: “I was stunned by the enthusiasm shown by all the volunteers. It was so lovely to see how they enjoyed talking to the students and how happy they were volunteering their time to help them. This is proof once again of the positive effect that volunteering can have on our wellbeing.”

Also in May, Tideway’s Skills and Employment team delivered a work taster session which was attended by 35 students from 26 London schools from across London. For the event Tideway partnered with Uptree, an organisation with the aim of connecting young people with the world of work.

Held over a morning, the virtual session gave the students the chance to speak to Tideway staff about their careers, as well as some of the possible job opportunities available on major infrastructure projects, such as Tideway.

The students were then set a challenge which they had to complete in groups before presenting back to a panel of Tideway volunteers.

One student who took part in the session said: “The event has given me an insight into what being involved in such a huge infrastructure project would be like as well as learning about the different roles in the project”.

Prior to the session, around 4% of participants said they were thinking about taking up an apprenticeship but by the end of the event, almost 90% mentioned they would now seriously consider pursuing that career path. 

Commenting on all of the work that the teams have done to engage with young people during lockdown, Monica Lobo, Tideway’s Skills and Employment Manager said: “Young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions that the pandemic has caused and many are now at risk of being left behind, according to the UN.

"We have been working hard with our partners and the Main Works Contractors to ensure that we are still providing opportunities for young people to interact first hand with construction professionals in a range of jobs, contributing directly to their future career success through networking and the development of skills and knowledge.”

You can access Tideway's free educational resources through our Tunnelworks website.