Balfour Beatty is taking the construction site into the classroom as part of its latest efforts to inspire young people to take up a career in the industry. In collaboration with Scape Group, the public sector owned built environment specialist, Balfour Beatty recently hosted its largest ever interactive broadcast with their supplier Learn Live UK. More than 3,000 students, aged between 11 and 18, participated in the live feed, to learn about careers in construction and engineering.

With 30 schools across England already engaged in the program, the group is planning to reach thousands more students with further interactive sessions planned in Wakefield, Wick, Thurso and Hampshire. The approach supports Balfour Beatty's commitment to The 5% Club, a UK industry-led initiative focused on creating momentum behind the recruitment of apprentices and graduates into the workforce.

The sessions, aimed at opening up construction and engineering to students from different backgrounds and cultures, involved live video feeds from employees on current Balfour Beatty led projects, including the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool and the M1 development near Leicestershire. The opportunity enabled students to observe engineering works being undertaken on a new motorway bridge; as well as see the view and control panel in an “office in the sky”, atop of one of our tower cranes. Whilst learning about careers in construction management, students were also encouraged to ask questions about the options available.

Mark Farrah, Balfour Beatty Regional Managing Director, North and Midlands, said: “With predictions showing that 400,000 construction workers are set to retire in the next five to ten years, it’s imperative that we take significant steps to open up the industry and to encourage our future workers to consider construction as a rewarding career path. We’re giving students the opportunity to see for themselves the type of projects they could get involved in and, through the live video interaction that they’ve come to expect, they can ask questions of workers out on site via their tablets and smartphones.”

Mark Robinson, Scape Group Chief Executive, said: “Attracting talented young people to construction is one of the biggest challenges the industry is currently facing. It is absolutely vital that we address the skills gap if we are to deliver the new infrastructure that the country and the Northern Powerhouse urgently needs, but the only way to do this is to engage young people in the sector and show them the great careers on offer. This interactive broadcast program is a fantastic way of digitally engaging this tech-savvy future generation of workers, inspiring thousands from across the county to think about a career in construction, whilst giving them the opportunity to see the wide range of projects they could be getting involved with.”

A Year 9 Student, at Our Lady and St John in Blackburn, said: “It was the first time we've used this kind of technology in school and it was really great. I really liked the way it was live from different parts of the country and that the presenters answered our questions while we were watching the broadcast."