“The programme has been really informative and showed the very wide variety of possible careers to go into. I really want to go into something to do with design and this has showed me another perspective to it, instead of the product design route, so this has been really helpful.”
“This work experience has really boosted my confidence about applying for apprenticeships in the construction industry and Colas."
Colas is a British construction firm specialising in major infrastructure programmes. It is impossible to travel around Britain without experiencing their influence as they are integral to projects for road, rail, air, and sea. They are committed to sustainable development, for instance using recycled and eco-friendly materials where possible, and greatly reducing their own carbon footprint.
Colas’ priority was to create a compelling programme that would boost industry knowledge and demonstrate how a career with them could provide opportunities to work on landmark - in a very literal sense - projects.
To help offset pre-existing bias in the industry, they wanted the cohort to be diverse both by gender and ethnicity and be available to disadvantaged students.
As we liaised with them, a desire emerged for a syllabus that could have a broad intake across school years, participants were then alerted to entry options relevant to them such as graduate programmes or apprenticeships.
Colas wanted a programme to represent the changing nature of the industry, both in sustainable construction methods and the new roles becoming available. Social media and marketing were less of a concern when Colas was starting out 80 years ago.
With a relatively narrow focus for the programme, our Content team knew that they could create modules that explored topic areas in depth, albeit that the content must be as suitable for a 14-year-old as well as someone four years older.
In agreement with Colas, a framework was created consisting of four modules, beginning with an introduction to the industry, followed by one focussing on construction. After this would be elements on sustainability and social value, followed by a final module that would feature a broader range of roles including finance, HR or social media management.
As with all programmes, interactivity was crucial. Students would get access to live webinars with industry experts and have tasks to complete, naturally with more expected of the older students.
Career opportunities were worked in naturally, we know it is often better to bring this in organically during webinars than to make it the focus of an entire module.
Colas’ request for a diverse cohort was easily achieved; by utilising our database of students we were able to enroll 500 students, all interested in construction, where the majority were female and two-thirds were from minority ethnic communities.
Of the 500 students enrolled, more than half (52%) were female and 66% were minority ethnic. Close to half were looking to be the first generation to go to university in their family (47%) and 24% qualified for free school meals.
The cohort was a relatively confident group, to begin with, 62% saying pre-programme they were at least ‘somewhat confident’ of their prospects. Even so, this rose to 92% on completion, with ‘very confident’ up from 17% to 39%.
Colas are likely to receive some applications too, with 61% saying they were at least likely to consider working in the industry (up from 52%) and 96% now having at least ‘good’ awareness of careers at Colas, this being 26% at the start.
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