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skills escalator photo construction june 2024

West Suffolk College helped build aspirations in young people for careers in construction when they hosted a one-day careers festival in Bury St Edmunds.

The occasion saw over 240 nine to eleven year olds from six Suffolk schools take part in a variety of activities at the Built Environment campus based on Anglian Lane.

The event was organised by Victoria Fiebelkorn – the Group Head of the Skills Escalator for the Eastern Education Group – as part of her ongoing mission to give primary school students the chance to experience the world of work.

In terms of having a specific focus for construction on this occasion, Victoria said: “The construction sector needs a future generation – there is a shortage of people coming through, so we need to do something now. We are keen to highlight the vast range and importance of careers in construction, for all genders. Some people who work in construction earn more money than doctors – so we were keen to celebrate facts like this.

“The reputation of the skills escalator days (careers events for primary schools) is getting stronger, and I think this model of giving primary schools hands on experiences in different sectors is a project that could be rolled out nationally. Thanks to all staff and students for organising sessions and to all the schools for participating.”

One of the attendees was Tom Hale, a year 5 teacher from Barrow Primary School. Tom said: “It’s been construction focussed and they (the students) loved it. Getting them out to schools and colleges to see what the future holds is a big one for them. It’s opened their eyes to other things. I’d highly recommend these days to other schools. Every one of my students engaged with the day from the word go.”

Willow, 9, also from Barrow Primary School said: “We tried out some building jobs to see if we want to do it when we are growing up. Today has been interesting and fun.”

Julie Kerridge is a higher-level teaching assistant at Sandlings Primary School. Julie said: “We jumped at the chance to come along, and it’s been fantastic. It’s given the children a different perspective on construction and a totally different idea of what the world of work is like. It’s a brilliant opportunity and we have seen so much.”

Izzy, 10, also from Sandlings Primary School said: “Today has been great.”

Ronnie, 17, from Stowmarket, is a Groundworks Level Two student at West Suffolk College who took part in this event. Ronnie said: “We showed the students basic drainage techniques, and they did very well – they outsmarted me at times.”                               

Neve, 17, from Thetford, is on a bricklaying course at West Suffolk College and was also took part in this event. Neve said: “Being here today hopefully inspires more girls to think about careers in construction.”

David Warren is head of building services, engineering and construction multi trades at the college. David said: “The message I tried to get across is that what you learn as a trade can never be taken away and the skills you get can take your career around the world.”