Constructing a plan for future careers

18th April 2023

Inspira and leading construction company Story Contracting teamed up during March 2023 to deliver a Future Careers programme for year 10 and 11 students at The Gillford Centre, Carlisle.

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The Gillford Centre is a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in North Cumbria where students come to at various points during their primary or secondary schooling, usually as a result of their previous school placement having broken down, whether through ill-health, behaviour issues or other difficulties. As students frequently feel less than positive about themselves and their life chances it is vital for them to be given the opportunity to fully understand all of the vast array of training and employment opportunities available to them when the time comes to leave in Year 11.

The school persistently strives to raise the aspirations of their young people and through Inspira requested support with their Future Careers programme which aims to help students realise their full potential and gives outcomes to aim for.

This year many of the students had expressed an interest in a career in construction and some were already actively looking at apprenticeships or college courses relating to this sector. Story Contracting who partnered with Inspira on a similar project were delighted to take part.

Twelve students participated in the programme which ran for two hours every Monday during March, with each week focusing on a different element of construction.

The sessions were interactive and fun to ensure maximum interest and engagement:

Week 1 Introduction to Story Contracting, different construction roles and reality of working on a construction site.

Week 2 Construction Health and Safety.

Week 3 Construction Challenge – Who can build the best bridge - taking into account efficiency, structure, aesthetics and practicability.

Week 4 Mock Interviews – with 1:1 coaching, feedback and top-tips.

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The programme has been a huge success with one of the students saying:

“They were brilliant. I didn't know there were so many job opportunities with a company like Story's”.

and another who came forward and requested some direct work experience following the sessions, said:

“I would love to do that, please can you try and get me some work experience, so I have a better chance of getting a job when I leave”.

As part of their commitment to invest in the next generation, Story Contracting offers young people a bespoke work experience opportunity for those considering a career in construction. Refreshingly rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach, students have the option to gain an insight to the business as a whole or to specific role/specialism, which includes site and operational visits. Additionally, students can choose to carry out the work experience as a block or as day release.

Marie Whitehead, Communications & Engagement Director said:

“At Story Contracting we try to involve ourselves in our community as much as possible, therefore, being invited to join Inspira at the Gillford Centre was a great opportunity for us to work with future generations and highlight the opportunities we have in the construction industry.”

Following on from the Future Careers Session a majority of students expressed an interest in work experience with Story Contracting; two of the students have already taken this a step further and planning has already started for their individual work experience programmes which will take place in the late spring or early summer.

David Hewson, Careers Lead at The Gillford Centre said:

“These are the positive links we are striving to make with local businesses and the fact we got one of the largest, most successful companies in Cumbria was amazing.

“We want our students to have the same opportunities as others and meeting local businesses has opened up discussions and motivated students to really set their ambitions high. The delivery of the sessions were adapted to meet the needs of our students and I know it has had a positive impact”.

Susan Watkins, Area Operations Manager (North) at Inspira said:

“Having employers come into school settings is essential for young people to understand where they may fit in to an industry sector or organisation. Story Contracting shared the stories and experiences of some really inspiring individuals within their business who have engaged and motivated these young people to consider their future careers and work hard towards achieving their newly found goals. The activities, whilst fun, really help learners to understand the skills and behaviours required to succeed in the construction sector, and work experience on top of that is the cherry on the cake”.