Willmott Dixon Interiors 'Changing Lives' Project

Earlier this year, Willmott Dixon Interiors completely refurbished our Bermondsey Construction Training Centre, whilst offering a 3 week training programme to young people from recent courses.

Willmott Dixon Interiors are passionately committed to working with local communities. As such, each year they invest in a local community initiative that goes above and beyond project delivery requirements. This year, they set their management trainees the challenge to devise and execute a high impact community project that would help support local talent, promote careers in construction and involve all their staff members and supply chain partners. The challenge was part of a wider initiative to raise the profile on London’s shortage of construction workers, and also to help contribute to their long standing commitment to transform the lives of 10,000 young people by 2020.

This year WDI decided to partner up with Construction Youth Trust to deliver the ‘Changing Lives’ project. The ‘Changing Lives’ project offered 13 unemployed young people from Construction Youth Trust 'Budding Builder's course the chance to be fast-tracked on a three week training programme to help boost their employability skills. The young people were mentored by Willmott Dixon Interiors’ trainees as they completed intensive training in leadership, teamwork, first aid, fire marshalling and asbestos awareness training at Construction Youth’s Bermondsey Training Centre. This was followed by a two week ‘hands on’ project to refurbish the entire centre to boost its capacity, offering the young people a further chance to develop their trade’s skills in and meet future employers.

The project has also helped WDI to deepen their long term social responsibility initiatives. As part of the social offering, they are now offering youths from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to join their team as site operatives. This is in addition to supporting local apprenticeships and management trainee scheme.

Of the young people who participated, 6 have gone on to gain employment, 3 have gone on to college construction courses, and 4 are seeking work/ training being able to add construction training certificates and work experience to their CV.

At the end of the project, the participants joined other recent students at a Graduation Ceremony at the refurbished and shiny new Construction Training Centre. Having completed multi-skilled courses in the construction trades, the students aged between 16–26 years were awarded their certificates by the Deputy Mayor of Southwark Councillor Charlie Smith. Along with many friends and family of the students, the event was attended by local stakeholders including Southwark council members, members of the industry such as Grosvenor and Willmott Dixon Interiors, educators, referral agencies, employment agencies, those working in housing associations and other local community groups.

Wendy Heller from Construction Youth Trust, and Jack Gunning from Willmott Dixon both spoke passionately about how far the students had come, and how far they could still go with this experience and new-found confidence.

Construction Youth Trust is running the Budding Builders course on a regular basis and welcomes young people from all London boroughs who are currently looking to gain a CSCS card, and find employment or training.