Crawley STEMfest event helps bring construction careers to life

Construction students from Central Sussex College were given a close-up look at construction careers during a VIP tour of Stonewater’s Imperial Mews affordable housing development in Brighton Road, Crawley.

Stonewater - Site Visit Crawley.jpg

The initiative was part of Crawley STEMfest, a programme of interactive shows, workshops and events led by industry professionals aimed at inspiring young people to build careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The behind-the-scenes tour of the 48-home development which is currently in progress on the former site of Crawley Down Peugeot and the old Imperial Cinema, was part of Stonewater’s commitment to the local community since signing up to the Crawley Developer and Partner Charter last year.

The tour was arranged by affordable housing provider Stonewater in partnership with building contractors PMC Construction and Development Services, for 11 College students studying for their NVQ Level 1 Diploma in Preparation for Employment in the Construction Industries.

The students and their tutors were able to meet representatives from the construction team and Stonewater to learn about the building process and the many different construction roles and skills required to deliver the scheme - from designers, site managers and quantity surveyors to bricklayers, plasterers and a myriad of other trades. The students were given an insight as to what they could expect on their first day working in construction and the Imperial Mews project team were also on-hand to answer questions and share their construction knowledge.

Construction skills shortage

“Events like this bring classroom learning to life in an innovative and exciting way which we hope will inspire more young people in the community to pursue jobs in construction-related careers, which is facing a skills shortage across the board,” says Jacqueline Burton, Development Officer for Stonewater. “We’ve really enjoyed meeting the students and showing them around our new housing development. Hopefully, we’ve given them a good understanding of the fantastic range of career opportunities available in today’s construction industry and the many different skills and disciplines it requires.”

Stonewater’s new Imperial Mews development, which will provide 43 flats for affordable rent and five houses for shared ownership sale, is due for completion in November 2016.

Stonewater, has signed up to Crawley Borough Council’s Crawley Developer and Partner Charter which aims to help generate sustainable employment and local supplier opportunities in the town. The housing provider, which manages and operates 748 properties in West Sussex, expects each affordable home at the new Imperial Mews development to create around 2.5 construction jobs during the building programme and up to four times that many in the wider supply chain.

Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development at Crawley Borough Council says: “I’m delighted that Stonewater organised for Central Sussex College construction students to tour the Brighton Road development.

“This is a great display of Stonewater’s commitment to our Developer and Partner Charter. Visits like these enrich students’ learning, demonstrating the range of careers available and allowing them to ask questions of industry professionals.”

As part of STEMfest, Stonewater has also sponsored a Minecraft and Lego Robotics event, at the Big Bang Fair, which was organised by the University of Brighton for local school children.

“Site visits are an excellent way for students to experience first-hand the working environment of a construction site and learn how their skills and knowledge can be applied,” comments Garry Blunt, Programme Area Manager for Construction Trades at Central Sussex College. “The students thoroughly enjoyed their visit to the development and left with a good understanding of the career opportunities available and what to expect when they enter the trades.”