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West Suffolk College is celebrating National Construction Week with an industry-leading free virtual event.

“Buildtastic is the first virtual construction event ever of its kind to raise the profile of the construction industry within young people,” explained Debbie Coomes from the college’s Built Environment Campus. “We’re proud to be launching Buildtastic in conjunction with primary and secondary schools, post-16 educational providers and our wonderful employers.”

There will be daily activities, live interviews and industry guest speakers plus a series of primary and secondary school activities culminating in two exciting competitions - to build a beautiful bug hotel and an idyllic hedgehog home amongst others. Debbie added: “Prizes include lunch and construction taster activities for the winning class at our Built Environment Campus with our fabulous students and staff.”

For secondary school pupils and post-16 students there will be sessions relating to roles in the industry, pay scales, tech talks by industry experts and how they came to be so. Employers will benefit from various live webinars.

Jason Alexander, known as the Wildlife Gadget Man, is one of those to contribute with his step-by-step video on how to build a bug hotel. He said: “I believe learning key skills and understanding the importance of building better sustainable structures - not only for human beings, but for the other creatures we share our surroundings with - is fundamental to creating a brighter more environmentally friendly future for all.

“Developing buildings and other structures using materials that are not only fit for purpose during their use but are sustainable and recyclable at the end of use is essential. You are never too young or too old to start learning and appreciating those skills.

“That’s why I’m thrilled to be a small part of the excellent Buildtastic initiative hosted by West Suffolk College.”

The construction industry is seen as crucial to the long-term success of the UK economy as it includes more than 280,000 businesses and accounts for 3 million jobs - 10 per cent of total UK employment.

Balfour Beatty Liaison Manager, Nicola Paine, said: “It has been wonderful to participate in West Suffolk College’s BUILDtastic virtual event which has given us the opportunity to introduce young people to the exciting world of construction during National Construction Week. 

“At Balfour Beatty we offer a vast array of career opportunities in many diversified roles, particularly for young people through our apprenticeships. As an industry, construction is extremely rewarding to be a part of; it is a fast-growing, innovative sector that is vital in delivering the UK’s infrastructure.”

Vic Fiebelkorn, Primary Science Coordinator at West Suffolk College, added: “We are committed to ensuring every child has access to a wide range of enrichment activities, to boost enthusiasm in construction, and to create a highly capable and prepared future workforce to support our local economy - this ethos is central to what we call our ‘Escalator Model’ and our work begins when children start primary school.

“Collaborating with local government and industry, we have developed the Primary Science Box project, providing practical hands-on science activities to over 70 schools across the region. Acting quickly after the outbreak of coronavirus, these boxes were made virtual, so that they are suitable for blended learning, where children might be working at home or in school.

“Our Buildtastic virtual construction event marks the launch of four virtual Construction Boxes for primary aged children, following the science box model and the escalator theme, with a very enthusiastic contribution and support from the industry. For me it has been a privilege to work alongside our experienced and professional team at the Built Environment Campus who I’m sure will make this virtual Buildtastic a benchmark event for the construction world, as we continue to bridge the gap between industry and education.”

Buildtastic will be running from Tuesday, 6 to Friday, 9 October 2020 and is a free event for all to access, with all videos available after the event. To register, go to www.wsc.ac.uk/buildtastic. Buildtastic is funded by NASCENT Place 21 thanks to funding from the European Social Fund.