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Lockdown learning has given us lessons for the future


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Last year, when the UK went into its first lockdown, Team SCAPE worked together, in partnership with Class of Your Own, The Engineering Development Trust and Learn Live, to create an innovative, virtual work experience programme for pupils who would otherwise have missed the opportunity.

In our latest blog, Steve Spilsbury, SCAPE framework director at Wates, shares how, through collaboration with our delivery partners, Team SCAPE delivered a week of accredited work experience to over 2,000 Year 10 students across the UK, to develop their interest in becoming the future construction workforce.

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Much has been said of the challenges that 2020 posed, but with a new year underway it’s important to not let the many examples of our industry’s resilience, innovation and passion go unrecognised.

One of the areas that has been most drastically affected due to COVID-19 is one which will have the most significant impact on the future of our industry – encouraging more young people into construction.

The skills shortage that currently exists in our sector is well documented, with firms relying on conducting school visits, site tours, open days and careers talks to help highlight the diverse opportunities our sector holds. However with schools closing their doors for most of last year, lessons being delivered via laptop and a shutdown on all visitors to sites, our usual armoury of tactics has had to adapt, and like many of our working practices in 2020 - go digital.

Learning in Lockdown

Leading the way has been the Learning in Lockdown initiative, created and delivered by Class of Your Own, Learn Live, The Engineering Development Trust, and SCAPE – the leading public procurement authority with which we are proud to work as a framework partner.

The programme involved a week-long virtual work experience event for Year 10 students, challenging them to design a pavillion in the desert which could promote sustainable and eco-friendly living to the residents nearby. The response to this challenge was fantastic; over 30,000 pupils registered an interest and over 300 schools took part, supported by 159 experts from 32 organisations.

Along with our fellow SCAPE framework partners, we advised students and judged the three award categories – Best Design, Great Achievement, and Best Written Report which I had the pleasure of judging myself. The level of detail, creativity and understanding that the pupils demonstrated in their reports meant that choosing a winner was tough. Since then I have held mentoring sessions for the winner and runner up, and they truly are a credit to their families and their schools.

Collaborative creativity

The success of this initiative, and witnessing the sheer talent and ingenuity of the students who took part, has given me a great deal of hope for the future of our industry and reaffirmed what I already knew – we work best when we work together.

Learning in Lockdown was able to succeed and reach so many students because of the complete collaboration between the multiple contractors, consultants, partners and schools. Even if 2021 does see us able to return to some sort of normality, reaching 300 schools in one week individually would be an impossible task, but we have proved that by combining our expertise and innovation it can be done.

We need to keep this momentum going. While we hope to meet students in person and bring them back onto site in the future, initiatives like Learning in Lockdown must be continued and expanded on year after year, to allow us to reach and educate as many young people as possible.

This brilliant programme has shown us that we can help shape the future of our industry through collaboration, in the same way that we use the principle to shape and deliver our complex projects across the country. I’m incredibly proud to have supported it and look forward to working with SCAPE and my fellow construction peers to deliver more in the future.

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Written by:

Steve Spilsbury