West London Construction Academy hosts a Construction Challenge for local schools


Last week over 75 pupils from year 8 got to grips with a host of new skills, including learning how to build and plaster walls, as part of a Construction Challenge. The two-day event was held at the West London Construction Academy located on Berkeley’s Southall Waterside development.   Pupils from Featherstone High School, Dormers Wells High School and Villiers High School took part in the challenge, which provided an opportunity to gain invaluable hands-on experience of core construction tasks to give an insight into the industry and the different career options available.

For the workshops, the 12- and 13-year olds were split into teams to complete a series of practical tasks that are vital to construction such as bricklaying, moulding and plastering, drainage, as well as learning about health and safety awareness.

The challenges encouraged students to work together and think outside the box to find solutions.  When asked what they thought of the development one pupil from Featherstone High School commented: “I enjoyed bricklaying as it felt nice to actually build something and see the end result of your work”, while another from Villiers High School said that Southall Waterside was “Awesome!”.

Berkeley, which is delivering the 88-acre Southall Waterside development, hosted the event in partnership with West London College.  Throughout the event, pupils were encouraged to ask questions about the different career opportunities in the construction industry and routes available to them, including apprenticeships, which are offered at the West London Construction Academy.

The winning team from each school has been invited to return to Southall Waterside later this summer to battle it out in a final challenge to see who will take home the Construction Challenge Trophy 2019.

David Warnes, Managing Director, West London College said: “It has been wonderful to have such engaged students from the schools local to the West London Construction Academy to take part in the Construction Challenge 2019.

“It’s these types of community activities that we take part in that can really have an impact and inspire the next generation of builders, architects, quantity surveyors, site managers, and more.  We saw some excellent work over the two days and are looking forward to welcoming the winning teams back again for the final!”

Lord Young of Norwood Green, Apprenticeship Ambassador and Chair of the Cross Party Group for West London said: “It is great to see employers and training providers partnering to deliver high-quality education and training initiatives that highlight the wide variety of options available to people once they leave school.  An event like this may spark a new found interest that could lead to a lifelong career.”

Damian Leydon, Operations Director at Berkeley West Thames, said: “At Berkeley we are committed to supporting the local community and making it easier for everyone to access a range of jobs and training opportunities.

“The construction challenge event is a fantastic way to boost the future of the construction industry by inspiring the next generation.”

The West London Construction Academy, which opened on-site at Southall Waterside last year and has now been recognised as one of the Mayor of London’s Construction Academy hubs, provides apprenticeships that allow students to gain on-the-job experience alongside classroom and online learning – bridging the skills gap for the long-term and allowing students to earn as they learn.

The development of Southall Waterside is set to create 21,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, and a further 600 permanent roles.  Berkeley is working closely with Ealing Council and local businesses to ensure local people are the first to benefit from these valuable career and training opportunities.

Once complete, Southall Waterside will provide 3,750 new homes on disused industrial land.  The scheme will create a welcoming, open landscape with two new parks for everyone to enjoy.  Other planned amenities include a health centre, primary school, community centre and a buzzing commercial district with shops, restaurants, a cinema and public squares.