Pupils compete online this year, not on-site, in school construction challenge

The ‘Build Your Future’ challenge was launched by Grampian Construction Training in 2019, and teams of ten S2 pupils from every school in Aberdeen City and Shire were invited to take part. The event was completely free to enter thanks to sponsorship from local businesses, and initial heats took place at construction companies and colleges and universities that teach construction-based courses. The final was held at Aberdeen Football Club, and over 100 pupils took part in 10 practical tasks, covering a range of areas from construction law to civil engineering.

As a result of Covid-19, organisers saw that it would be impossible to run the challenge in the same way in 2020, but were adamant that the event would go ahead in some format, to reflect the resilience that the construction industry has demonstrated during lockdown and in the months that followed. Companies including main sponsors Halliday Fraser Munro and Barratt Homes, showed early support to ensure that the event could take place.

This year’s challenge saw pupils take part from the safety of their own school using video conferencing and competing in groups of three teams at a time. There were four challenges in total, ranging from “Guess Who?” a general introduction to the range of career opportunities within construction, to a health and safety task that required pupils to evaluate the increased safety measures on all building sites as a result of the pandemic.

Following a week of heats, teams from Banchory, Alford, Ellon, Aboyne, Mintlaw, and Hazlehead Academies will go through to the final, which is taking place online on Thursday 28th January.

Michelle Forth, Director at Safety Scotland, who administer the running of Grampian Construction Training said: “We ran Build Your Future for the first time in 2019, so we weren’t sure how best to proceed initially for 2020. It is clear to see the pressure that teachers are under, and we were not sure if there would be any support for the challenge given the current situation.

“However, we received an extremely positive response from schools, so we continued with our plans to run the challenge as a digital event. After seeing and hearing how much pupils and teachers enjoyed the first round of the challenge, we are delighted that we persevered. On behalf of the organising committee, I would like to thank every school that took part, and the large number of businesses who have supported this year’s challenge.”

David Halliday, Managing Director of Halliday Fraser Munro said “David Halliday, Managing Director of Halliday Fraser Munro, said: “It is great so many young people from across the north east take part in this year’s ‘Build your Future’ challenge. It shows how schools, teachers and pupils, as well as the construction industry, have been quick to adapt to the pressures of Covid-19.

“We were keen to support the event again this year and we’re delighted to see how pupils responded to our challenge to design a house to fit a client brief. Congratulations to all those who took part in the heats and we wish participants well for the finals. We also hope the challenge will encourage many young people to pursue a career in construction.”

Kevin Urquhart, Construction Director of Barratt Home, said “There’s no denying that 2020 has been challenging for students and teachers who, together, have battled through the pandemic to maintain their focus on skills and learning.

“This focus on the future and careers is so important, which is why we’ve supported this fantastic initiative. The construction and housebuilding industries makes a significant contribution towards jobs and the economy, and long after the pandemic, it will continue to provide valuable opportunities for young people looking to carve out a rewarding career.”

9th December 2020