Utilising the excellent facilities in the West Stand of The American Express Community Stadium, Want to Work in Construction, a partnership between Albion in the Community, City College, Centurion Group, HOP and Bouygues, saw job seekers and students participate in a free programme of workshops and masterclasses.
Opened by Councillor Bill Randall, the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, the week consisted of over 20 different sessions covering all aspects of construction, including architecture and design, civil and structural engineering and sustainability and ecology. Experts, who have worked on the Olympic Park and Amex Stadium projects, were on hand to impart their knowledge, and the attendees also had the opportunity to visit some of the city's major development sites.
The group was joined on the final day of the programme by local MPs Mike Weatherley and Caroline Lucas, who judged the participants' ideas for the future of the King Alfred Leisure Centre site in Hove.
Jon Orrell, Director of Hemsley Orrell Partnership (HOP) in Hove, a founding partner of the initiative, heralded the success of the event: "This truly unique programme brought together a wealth of experts from all areas of the construction sector to give young people the opportunity to get work in the industry"
The scheme also recieved ministerial backing, Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), added: "The construction industry is vital to the UK economy and 'Want to Work in Construction Week' was a great way for Brighton & Hove's 16-24 year olds to get the sort of job advice, work experience or apprenticeship opportunities that could help kick-start a career or inspire a budding entrepreneur to success.
They've shown that all it needs is a little community spirit and some commitment from industry to show young people that if they aspire to work hard at a job they enjoy, they'll get on in life".
Combining the power of football with the ground-breaking Want to Work initiatives has inspired hundreds of local people back into employment, and on the road to a better career through work placements, work experience and apprenticeships.
One such success story from Want to Work in Construction is Michael Berry from Woodingdean. The 22-year-old had a great week… "It has been a brilliant and inspiring week, particularly for those of us who have not had the opportunity to meet and speak to people high up in the industry. I really enjoyed the site visits, particularly the ones to the Marina and the Brighton Wheel. They were a fantastic way to understand what is happening across the city. Thanks to the programme I'm now hoping to start a plumbing apprenticeship in September."
"The week was a great success with over 25 opportunities in the construction industry being provided", enthused Centurion & Haydon Director and co-founding partner of the week, Ed Allison-Wright. "The course candidates will now progress through the Want to Work programme with the full support of AITC every step of the way, to ensure they utilise the opportunities before them.
Throughout the week we have had a valuable support from the public and private sector, including over 25 construction companies, particularly Denne and Warings (part of the Bouygues Group), the major sponsors for the event. The week captured the evolution of a generally shy audience on Monday into a proactive, confident team of individuals on Friday – a fantastic week for all involved."
As a result of Want to Work in Construction, two new companies – Mackley Construction, Small Dole and Edburton, based in the village of the same name – are keen to explore future participation in Want to Work.
"They came to us", recalls AITC's Commercial Manager Barry McLaughlin. "We invited the businesses into the project and they have asked themselves about the opportunities they're creating for youngsters, in particular for the anticipated upturn in the construction industry. This is already in evidence by all the cranes in Brighton."
"We had 22 absolutely committed people to the initiative and ultimately the beneficiaries got a lot out of the week", said AITC's Gary Wares, who organised the programme. "In the feedback sessions, each and every one of them was nothing but complimentary. The positives outweighed the negatives, which in a situation like that is a testament to how hard everyone had worked on the week."