Innovative careers scheme inspires Chesterfield’s next generation and aims to reduce skills gaps
A pioneering scheme, which is linking schools with leading property and construction firms in Chesterfield, is inspiring young people to pursue careers in the construction sector.
‘Careers Made in Chesterfield’ has resulted in fourteen quality placements being offered for talented young people to learn about the property and construction sector. This follows several businesses from the town’s property and construction sector participating in workshops at Parkside Community School, showcasing the range of rewarding careers available.
Providing face-to-face interaction with students proved very successful, with 40% of students who completed the programme expressing a high interest in working in the construction sector in the future – rising from just 20% when the scheme was originally conceived in September 2022.
The initiative was launched following a report by CITB, which outlines how an extra 225,000 workers are required in the UK’s property and construction sector by 2027, equating to roughly 3,500 per year in the East Midlands Region alone.
During the ‘Careers Made in Chesterfield’ programme, business leaders carried out an initial speed networking workshop with pupils, answering their questions and helping to open their eyes into the many different exciting roles associated with property and construction.
In the second workshop sessions, students were tasked with designing a new building within the Northern Gateway area of Chesterfield. Working in groups of five to design a community venue, each group was allocated an employer mentor from the property and construction sector to help develop the design.
The project is enabling students to gain vital work experience, but also showcases the breadth of skills needed to achieve Chesterfield’s ambitious growth and regeneration plans.
The innovative pilot has seen 20 professionals from 11 local businesses helping to deliver the programme to 110 Year 10 students at the school.
Andrew Byrne, Property Development Director at The Devonshire Group, and member of the Chesterfield Property and Construction Group added: “One of the main issues being faced by the property and construction sector is that its workforce is getting older.
“It is vital to begin bringing in the next generation, and Careers Made in Chesterfield is one of many initiatives which will help to secure the future pipeline of talent that our businesses rely on.
“It is a very exciting time to be getting into the sector, and with schemes such as this, our young people will one day contribute towards delivering the physical, social, and green infrastructure that Chesterfield needs to continue its sustainable growth.”
Cllr Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth commented: “Working with local businesses to deliver the Careers Made in Chesterfield pilot demonstrates how direct engagement with students can spark their interest in different career paths.
“Helping young people learn more about the skills they need and the options available to them is key to ensuring that we can provide secure high quality jobs in Chesterfield and that they can plan for a great future in our borough.”
Ben Riggott, Head Teacher at Parkside School said: “The Careers Made in Chesterfield pilot represented a step change in creating sustained connections between our Year 10 students and some great local companies.
“This model is fantastic for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, students build relationships with employers across the programme, which in turn enhances their confidence and the likely outcomes of work experience.
One of the firms to be welcoming a student on placement in July is Oasis Studio, which provides virtual reality and augmented reality services to property and construction businesses.
Tony Buck, Associate Director at Oasis Studio commented: “We jumped at the chance to get involved in the pilot scheme. The construction industry is continually evolving, adopting new technologies and construction methods.
“To stay competitive, I believe it’s crucial we have a skilled workforce that can embrace these advancements. I really enjoyed demonstrating the range of opportunities in the sector today. We utilised our VR headsets during the workshop to offer the students a virtual site visit and help them understand the brief. I was genuinely impressed by the student's level of maturity and engagement throughout the workshops, and their ideation of concepts was fantastic.”
Further addressing the increasing construction skills shortage within Chesterfield, the Construction Skills Hub in Mastin Moor will welcome learners from autumn this year.
Funded through the Staveley Town Deal, the skills hub will provide a practical platform for construction training, careers activity and work experience on a live construction site.
Initially the Skills Hub will provide training in site and bench joinery, brickwork, ground works and electrical installation but in time the offer will expand to include training in retrofit and green technologies. It will be open to school leavers and other residents seeking to train or retrain.
The Hub will provide training, careers insights, and work experience for more than 5,000 learners over 10 years.
Businesses and schools that wish to register their interest in the Careers Made in Chesterfield initiative, are urged to contact Emily Williams, Skills Delivery Officer at Chesterfield Borough Council on 01246 959717.
The Destination Chesterfield Partnership has received £180,000 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It follows a successful funding bid by Chesterfield Borough Council, to secure £2.69 million worth of funding for local projects.