A project that is giving construction students first-hand experience of building a real housing development got under way in Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday.
The scheme, thought to be the first of its kind, will see student bricklayers, plasterers and carpenters from West Suffolk College work alongside Havebury Housing Partnership and its external contractors to build new homes on a former garage site in Mitchell Avenue.
Steve Nugent, director of Cocksedge Building Contractors, said: “At the end of the day, the industry’s missed a whole generation of apprentices so to have these here and give them first-hand experience is a pleasure.
“They’re going to be a key part of it. They’re not just here to look around, they’re going to be working here for the next eight to nine months.”
“It’s quite exciting really,” said Ryan Tooke, a carpentry Level 2 student. “To say that we’ve been and done it already onsite will give us an advantage in going out and getting a job.”
Sam Mills, a construction and the built environment Level 3 student, said being involved would help him to decide what career to follow.
He said: “We’ll learn more about the roles we want to go into and how everyone carries out their jobs.
“And if we do ever try to find a job in this area, hopefully the recruiter will have heard of this and I will be able to put my name to it.” h
Brickwork Level 2 student Emery Moore said he felt he had learnt enough to ‘get stuck in’ onsite. He said taking part was about ‘being prepared for the real world’ and would look great on his CV.
Nikos Savvas, college principal, said: “This collaboration offers an exceptional educational experience to develop the next generation of construction professionals who will be ready to meet the growing demand for new homes in the region.
“It is an exceptional project that demonstrates how powerful collaborations between business and education can be.”
The project, for five houses and two flats, is expected to cost around £900,000. The students will focus exclusively on building the flats, with all their work contributing towards their course qualifications.
The original designs were submitted by Higher Education students from the Construction Management and Building Services courses earlier this year and developed by one of Havebury’s consultant architects.
Mr Nugent said: “This is the first time, I think nationally, that anyone’s gone through from concept design to completion of project with student involvement.
“We’ve actually said to the college, if the right guy or girl comes along and shows us willing there’s a potential job at the end of it for them.”