Growing developer contractor forges links with tomorrow’s construction talent

A proactive approach to developing links with university students on construction-related courses is helping growing property solutions company The GB Group to develop a steady stream of new recruits and greater awareness of careers opportunities in the business for the industry’s future talent.

This year, GB has announced a new partnership with the School of Construction Management and Engineering at the University of Reading in a three year commitment to Constructionarium, a bespoke learning facility created and developed for built environment students to gain practical site experience.

Over six days, Constructionarium allows undergraduates undertaking relevant courses the opportunity to develop their practical abilities alongside team working, leadership, communication and project management skills, and establish working links with industry.

This year, a team from GB worked with Reading students to plan and then build a large-scale replica of the Barcelona tower on-site at Constructionarium’s six-hectare site which is based at CITB’s campus in Bircham Newton, Norfolk. The GB team included Stephen Longhurst, National Framework Development Manager, Tony Lynes, Project Manager, Joss Orpin, Management Trainee, Ion Guzon and Andrew Helm, Year Out Placement students.

Dr Timothy Lees, Lecturer and Industrial Placement Officer, School of Construction Management and Engineering at University of Reading said the support from GB had been “spectacular”. He said:

“I have never seen a group of students more authentically engaged than this week on the Barcelona Tower project. The support from GB’s team has been extraordinary, both in our planning week and on the site.”

GB has been involved with Constructionarium since 2007, initially with Northumbria University and this year for the first time with University of Reading’s School of Construction Management and Engineering, having identified it as a potential source of new recruits to the business.

Past Constructionarium projects have introduced four new recruits to the business and the company also sends its own year out students (two this year) as a learning experience and in support of the site manager. In the past the company has also sent trades apprentices, bringing an additional perspective to the event.

National Framework Development Manager, Stephen Longhurst masterminds the Group’s involvement in Constructionarium and also works closely with a number of universities, providing the Construction Ambassadors Mentoring learning package, attending careers fairs, giving guest lectures, talks to students and arranging site visits.

Stephen said:

“Every year, we visit universities including Reading, Leeds Met, Nottingham Trent, Birmingham and Kingston to forge links and search for year out students, whom we hope will become future senior people within the group. Constructionarium further strengthens these links, placing us in a good position to recruit potential managers and surveyors. The recession has had an impact on our recruitment needs, but with a growing order book we are actively looking for candidates again and are confident our activities working with the universities will help us secure the very best talent,”

Every year, Constructionarium welcomes many new teams of students matched with contractors like GB undertaking the 16 projects available from their portfolio. These include Naples Underground Canopy, the Gherkin, Ravenspurn Oil Platform, Millau Cable Bridge and Kingsgate Bridge.

Constructionarium’s Scheme Manager, Robin Holdsworth says:

“Constructionarium is a fantastic opportunity for students to apply their learning and experience the real life challenges of site life. In our 10 year history, this is the first time we have welcomed the University of Reading to site and we are delighted they have partnered with GB Building Solutions, a strong supporter of Constructionarium. We hope this is the start of a long lasting partnership. As the academic year draws to a close, we have seen over 800 students from 26 universities tackling 43 projects and gaining knowledge, skills and experience that will last a lifetime.”