Macauley (17), Felix (17) and Bradley (17) were the most recent students to benefit from our improvement contractor, Engie’s, social value plan for Watford Community Housing by taking part in a work experience programme at our Harebreaks site.
As part of their contracts in Watford, Engie delivers a menu of community impact activities to improve outcomes for local people. The bespoke Social Value Plan focuses on improving economic stability, with an emphasis on offering and supporting access to a range of training and employment opportunities for local people.
We do this through giving advice on career paths into the construction industry, including raising awareness of the diverse roles within the sector, providing support and guidance on CV-writing and interview skills, delivering free training courses and by offering opportunities for work placements and apprenticeship schemes. Community Impact Manager, Mark Bush, and Administrator, Kelsey Fox, have developed a strong partnership with the employability team at West Herts College, and have been working together to provide support to engineering students by offering opportunities for practical experience.
In May 2019, Mark and Kelsey arranged for three students to take part in a three week work experience placement at our sites in Watford.
Macauley, Felix and Bradley are all at the Kings Langley campus of West Herts College studying towards their Level 3 Extended Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and were keen to get some hands-on experience in the construction industry.
During their placements, the students were able to get a real insight into different aspects of construction as they alternated between spending their time with Site Managers and Engie’s Resident Liaison Officer.
Engie’s Marketing Coordinator, Keri Lorenzen, caught up with the students to find out more about their work experience placements.
How did you hear about the work placement opportunity with Engie?
Bradley: “Within our section of the college, there are opportunities for gap placements and our Employability Facilitator, Phoebe Comaskey, came into our class to explain about different opportunities. There were limited placements with Engie and lots of us wanted them, so we had to kind of
‘fight for it’ a little bit and explain why we wanted this work experience. I’d heard about it before and wanted to do it because it’s one direction I might like to follow in my future career, like all three of us.”
So, what have you been doing in your first week?
Bradley: “We’ve been coming in every Friday and done different things. We’ve had the opportunity to do lots of relevant training that will really help. We’ve done ‘Slips, Trips and Falls’, Manual Handling, Asbestos Awareness, PPE, Lone Working and Working at Height. This will make a big difference in helping us to get our CSCS cards.”
Felix: “We’ve been out to visit some of the different Engie sites and seen a range of works you’re doing. I went out with the site manager and had a look at a few of the different roofing sites. The first one I saw, the windows had just been put in. It was interesting because there was asbestos board around them that the client didn’t want to be removed so we had to find a way of replacing the windows without allowing water to get in.
Macauley: “The first week I went out with Tony and we were doing quality assurance and inspections to make sure everything had been completed as it should have been. We then went to two residents’ homes and then, last week, I went out with Tony and looked at roofing and chimney works we’ve been doing.”
Bradley: “I did the training on the first week and last week I went with Gary on snagging visits to look for any defects which needed to be resolved. Felix and I also went out with the Resident Liaison Officer and did new kitchen consultations. It was useful to see that communication and customer service aspect.”
Macauley: “All three of us also became ‘Dementia Friends’ as part of dementia awareness week.”
What are you hoping to do with your qualification in the future?
Felix: “I’ve always liked hands on work, so I’d like to do mechanical engineering in construction and that’s why I especially wanted to do this placement – to make sure I’m on the right track.”
Bradley: “After I’ve finished my course, I’m aiming to either get an apprenticeship with a company like Engie or a mechanical engineering company that does precise engineering such as motor vehicle engineering.”
Macauley: “I’ve always wanted to do mechanical or electrical engineering in the world of construction. I’ve always wanted to go into construction of some sort. When I was younger, I wanted to be an architect but it’s kind of developed and coming on a placement like this to find out more about the opportunities is really useful.”
What can you take from the placement that will benefit you in your course and career going forward?
Macauley: “Well, I know now that I am going in the direction I should be. I’ve now seen it first hand and I know it’s what I want to do so it’s motivated me to put more effort in at college because I’m confident and reassured that this is what I want to do.”
Felix: “It’s kind of similar for me in that I know I’m on the right path. But it’s also the small things I’ve picked up which will help with the course. I went out with Tony to a block of flats on the first week to do fire proofing and compartmenting and I got to see the actual fire board and what goes into it in reality. At college, we learn all about the legislation but it’s really helpful to see it in practice.”
Bradley: “It was enlightening as I wasn’t exactly sure which direction I wanted to go in and this has opened a door as I’ve found it really interesting and would like to develop it more.”