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Bricklaying at the Construction Challenge 2019 event in Southall

Construction challenges pupils to build new skills

Local school pupils took part in an annual Construction Challenge and learned new skills, including how to build and plaster walls, as well as getting an invaluable taste of the construction industry and possible career options.

More than 75 pupils attended the two-day event of workshops and challenges, which was held at the new West London Construction Academy in Southall, which opened only last year. It runs apprenticeships allowing students to gain on-the-job experience on a live construction site, alongside classroom and online learning.

The Year 8 students came from neighbouring Featherstone, Dormers Wells and Villiers high schools.

Bricklaying demonstration at Construction Challenge 2019 in Southall
Bricklaying demonstration at Construction Challenge 2019 in Southall

For the workshops, the 12- and 13-year olds were spilt into teams to complete a series of practical tasks that are vital to construction such as bricklaying, moulding and plastering, drainage; as well as learning about health and safety awareness.

The challenges encouraged students to work together and think ‘outside the box’ to find solutions.

A winning team from each school was declared – and they have all been invited to return later this summer to battle it out in a final challenge to see who will take home the Construction Challenge Trophy 2019.

One pupil from Featherstone High said: “I enjoyed bricklaying because it felt nice to actually build something and see the end result of your work.”

Throughout the event, pupils were encouraged to ask questions about the different career opportunities in the construction industry and routes available to them, including apprenticeships.

The academy is on the 88-acre Southall Waterside development being built by Berkeley. And West London College co-hosted the event with Berkeley.

David Warnes, managing director of West London College said: “It’s these types of community activities that we take part in that can really have an impact and inspire the next generation of builders, architects, quantity surveyors, site managers, and more. We saw some excellent work over the two days.”

Pupils from the three high schools (Dormers Wells, Featherstone and Villiers) at Construction Challenge 2019
Pupils from the three high schools (Dormers Wells, Featherstone and Villiers) at Construction Challenge 2019

Damian Leydon, operations director at Berkeley West Thames, said: “The construction challenge event is a fantastic way to boost the future of the construction industry by inspiring the next generation.”

The development of Southall Waterside is set to create more than 21,000 jobs, 600 of which will be permanent roles. Berkeley is working closely with Ealing Council and local businesses to ensure local people are the first to benefit from these valuable career and training opportunities. Once complete, Southall Waterside will provide 3,750 new homes on the disused industrial land.

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