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We hear from Marie, Senior Social Value Manager at Willmott Dixon Construction as she tells us about how they help prepare young people for the world of work through virtual work experience - 'Future Leaders'. 

My name is Marie Wilkes and I am a Senior Social Value Manager working for Willmott Dixon Construction in the Midlands. Part of my role is to engage with young people and share with them the great employment opportunities and careers that are available withing the Construction Industry.

With over 160 years of rich history, Willmott Dixon’s purpose is beyond profit, delivering brilliant buildings, transforming lives, strengthening communities and enhancing the environment so our world is fit for future generations. Ensuring that we add lasting value to the neighbourhoods we work in, our values, people, innovation, partnerships and focus on sustainability has allowed us to build a successful and solid privately owned business where our people can thrive.

I think that experience of the work place for young people is essential because it brings a job that students have read about to life, it complements academic studies by providing another way of learning outside the classroom and you cant beat experiencing first-hand how a job is carried out in. Experiences of the workplace also help students to meet new people, interact with professionals, build confidence, develop transferable skills such as communication, teamworking, problem solving and provide crucial knowledge, skills and personal attributes that employers look for.

Due to Covid restrictions we are currently providing experiences of the workplaces through virtual delivery, our virtual work experience week is a fun and interactive programme which give students a great insight of the managerial roles within the construction industry. Called Future Leaders the week incorporates a virtual site visit, live guest speaker sessions with up to ten professionals, project work, presentations, team working skills, employability sessions and much more.

Feedback from some of the students who have taken part in the proramme;

“It widened my knowledge about construction and introduced me to roles I had never heard of before and also developed my team working skills allowing me to meet lots of new people.”

“It helped people to grow confident, and work with other people, and it helped me feel very confident in myself and my abilities.”

“This was a great experience for me, it helped me expand my understanding in the construction business and all the amazing jobs available in it. This week has inspired me to seek a management position as I have really enjoyed the work experience!”

“Prior to the work experience, my conceptions regarding constructions were primitive, and I thought construction was mainly hands-on practical work and was not a career for me. However, after the WEX week, I understood the breadth of the industry, whilst also learning important skills for the industry and my future career. Since the WEX, I am considering careers in the industry, and will work towards developing further skills and qualifications needed for roles in the industry, especially looking at civil engineering and project management.”

We also offer one of workshops including live guest speaker sessions from various professionals such as Bid Managers, Estimators, Planners,  Design Managers, Quantity Surveyors, Construction Managers, Quality Manager, Environmental and Sustainability Managers, Digital Engineers, HR and our management trainees, site tours of our live projects, employability sessions, Covid, Careers and your next steps and also mentoring session for students who are not sure of their careers journeys.

Marie.wilkes@willmottdixon.co.uk