Gleeds’ challenge aims to get students interested in construction

Gleeds’ challenge aims to get students interested in construction

Students from Cockburn School in Leeds got the chance to see what life in the construction industry is like with a team from the building consultancy firm Gleeds.

The construction firm, which was responsible for the Olympic Stadium, Pinewood film studios and Daytona Speedway, joined the kids in the classroom in a bid to inspire them.

They teamed up with The Transformation Trust to organise a curriculum-aligned challenge which saw 60 students aged 11 to 14 take part in a specially devised workshop.

The participants were split into groups of five and spent the day planning every aspect of a hypothetical construction project at Windsor Castle.

The initiative has been mirrored in secondary schools across the country as part of the business’ annual Global Challenge volunteering event.

This year, staff from across its 68 offices worldwide will be donating a total of 7500 hours – the equivalent of over three working years – of their time in a bid to inspire the next generation of construction professionals.

The best entries from the 64 UK workshops will now be put forward into a national final, with winners selected by a top panel including Gleeds’ Chairman, Richard Steer, and partner at Make Architects, Ken Shuttleworth, with the successful team winning a tour around Windsor Castle.

Lord Andrew Stunell, the peer heading up a review of challenges faced by the construction industry post-Brexit, has lent his support to the programme, saying; “To meet the current skills shortage the UK construction sector must recruit one person every 77 seconds until the year 2021.

“If we are even going to come close to that we first need to engage with young people and I think this is a really fantastic way of showing off everything construction has to offer”. 

The Gleeds Global Challenge originated in 2015 when the organisation marked its 130th anniversary by setting itself a target to raise £130,000 in 5 days for charities across the world.

Having almost doubled the amount of money raised – hitting £240,000 worth of donations – the Global Challenge has become an annual employee volunteering event, intended to offer support to local communities.

Steve Green, director of Gleeds in Leeds, added:“Our industry is facing a huge challenge in terms of recruiting new staff and it is up to us to try and change the misinformed perceptions, encouraging the next generation to take up careers in our industry.

“Having seen the imagination, creativity and raw talent on display during our workshop I am confident that this year’s Global Challenge can inspire students everywhere to look at construction in a new light”.