Project Description

Young people have participated in a virtual work experience programme with BAM Construction over a five-week period. BAM are currently completing the new build of Madras College in St Andrews.

Madras College in St Andrews works to create positive pathways for its pupils through its focus on developing awareness and understanding of employability skills for its students. Through work with Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) in Fife, as well as multiple programmes and partnerships with local businesses, colleges and bodies, the team coordinates and facilitates positive career destinations and contextualised learning opportunities across Fife to meet the needs of Madras College pupils.

With DYW (Fife) acting as the mechanism to bring it all together, the school has had some incredible results for young people including engagement with UK construction and management contractor, BAM Construction and its fantastic virtual work experience programme.

Currently working on Madras College’s new school campus, BAM Construction is committed to giving back to the communities in which it operates and has a long history of engagement with educational bodies (from tertiary education such as Fife College or with primary and secondary schools) through its ‘Enhancing Lives’ strategy.

Education and Community Coordinator at BAM Construction, Claire Anderson, explained

“Nowadays community engagement is very client driven. We don’t often see a tender without additional targets to deliver for the local area. In my role covering community engagement, I am very focused on engaging with educational teams. I am often involved in bids, creating proposals for what we can do for employment or the local economy on a project. I offer insight into our industry for young people, sharing learnings about what is involved in a big project like the one we’re currently undertaking at Madras College and also showcasing initiatives which have been successful in the past.”

“BAM Construction have worked in Fife for many years and didn’t always have straightforward opportunities to connect with local schools and colleges. Through Developing the Young Workforce in Fife, this has paved the way for many of our recent initiatives and projects, such as the virtual work experience programme which was delivered for young people in Scotland in 2020.”

“The virtual work experience programme was developed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and delivered virtually to 20 young people. We had fantastic engagement from pupils in Fife at the start of the project and, although not everyone completed the programme in full, we had three students from Fife who went on to pass the course.”

The first of its kind to be delivered in Scotland by BAM Construction, the course was developed to provide an introduction to the construction industry. The programme featured 11 modules relating to topics such as sustainability, engineering, marketing, site management and business development, delivered by a range of industry experts – some from BAM Construction and some from subcontractors such as FES or those currently involved in the project at Madras College, ensuring it was relatable and varied for those in attendance.

With a variety of contributors, the project has not only supported in development for young people but has also created positive results for presenters in learning how to design a module which would work for a young audience and create engagement when delivered online.

Avril McNeill, Rector at Madras College said,

“Having worked with BAM since August 2020, they have been incredibly accommodating and supportive in terms of the Madras College new build. We have formed a strong working partnership. Schools thrive in helping their learners to sustain a positive destination after leaving school. The partnerships we build with employers and colleges/ universities are critical to this success.”

“During a session where schools are having to adjust to the impact of COVID on our community and the way we work, this virtual work experience has brought a creative solution for young people interested in working life after school. Work Experience, in general, is instrumental in building confidence, resilience and life skills for learners. We are very grateful to BAM and DYW Fife for extending this opportunity to Madras College pupils. The young people and their families found the experience extremely beneficial.”

Claire went on,

“There were a few technical challenges initially, but everyone did a fantastic job in ensuring they found ways to push through the challenges of virtual learning to give a real flavour of what it’s like to work in the construction industry. From the feedback, I know that the presenters got a lot out of it personally. That said, there are a multitude of benefits to businesses in running a project like this for young people. Not only does it develop and challenge our team and create routes to give back to local communities, it’s also a fantastic way to open the door for new talent to come into the industry.”

“Educational engagement is notoriously difficult. In my experience, you often need around three interventions with a student to get a connection where they are so engaged that they consider joining the business or the industry. That’s why the Developing the Young Workforce programme is so powerful. Knowing that we can tap into a main point of contact for all schools in Fife, who can coordinate our activity regionally, makes engagement straightforward and is a great benefit to us as a business. We wouldn’t hesitate in running a similar virtual work experience programme and will look forward to building on our relationship with Developing the Young Workforce (Fife) to create further opportunities for young people in the future.”