Willmott Dixon Interiors has a proud record of investing in work experience programmes and enabling better careers for young people.
The benefits of doing so are numerous. Work experience programmes:
- Identify talent and support workforce diversity
- Deliver staff development opportunities
- Help sustain a highly engaged team
Above all, we believe that giving young people a positive experience in construction is simply the right thing to do, forming part of a high-impact social value proposition that supports our local communities.
In 2020, we launched our new sustainability strategy, Now or Never, Our decisive decade with a series of ambitious targets to achieve by 2030.
Building Lives is a key theme of the strategy. It acknowledges the enormous challenge of building a fairer society for all, and shapes our approach to CSR, social value and community.
We know that income inequality remains high and people’s life chances vary greatly. The enormity of those issues cannot be resolved by a single organisation, but our belief is that the wider construction sector has a significant role to play.
It’s why we work in close collaboration with customers, supply chain partners and community organisations to fully understand what’s needed, and how we can deliver real, long-term impact.
Building a career in construction
We’ve delivered placements to 135 young people in London and the West Midlands since the start of the year (January – August 2023) – that’s equivalent to c.82 weeks of work experience.
Partnering with ten separate schools and colleges, we’ve created opportunities across a whole range of functions to enable young people aged 13-22 years to gain an insight into, and a first hand experience of, life in the construction industry.
We have invited people into our site management, surveying and sustainability teams, opened the doors to our social value and preconstruction departments, as well as hosting opportunities in marketing and design.
Work experience programmes have challenged young people in several ways, not least in their perceptions of what roles are available in the sector – think interior fit out programmes, fashion-based placements and animation.
Our placements are by no means desk-based either. We know young people gain huge value from experiencing live construction sites, which is why we’ve hosted visits to projects such as Soho Theatre Walthamstow.
Structured, activity-led work experience programmes
The activities undertaken by young people on our work experience programmes are wide and varied.
We have devised four specific programme types which are designed to develop new skills, stretch minds and deliver experiences that young people may not have been exposed to before.
We have asked young people to:
- Design and present their own school, including formulating business ideas for their own construction company to build it.
- Create a sustainable village with innovative ideas on how to implement sustainable methods in all stages of construction (i.e. planning, building and aftermath).
- Design sustainable PPE for site workers.
- Use a randomised brief to create a design project on a digital platform.
A rewarding experience of work
Our programmes are shaped by the feedback we receive from students and teachers alike.
They have given us invaluable insight into what they most enjoyed during their time with us, what they’ve learnt about themselves and what else they’d like to experience.
- 135 young people have been on a Willmott Dixon Interiors work experience programme in London or the West Midlands since January 2023.
- 88% of participants said they would recommend our work experience programmes to a friend.
- Programmes have been delivered in partnership with ten different schools and colleges.
We typically receive positive feedback around soft skills development, especially in areas such as teamwork, communication, confidence and leadership.
But there are other new skills frequently cited by our work experience alumni that aren’t always taught in class: how to develop a professional network, working to people’s strengths and the importance of time management and organisation.
Building a career in construction
We’re proud that our work experience programmes provide an overwhelmingly positive experience for the majority of young people who spend time with us.
For Modassir Zaman, the experience was simply life-changing. He graduated with a construction management degree in 2020 before experiencing mental ill health that led to being sectioned to a mental health hospital for four months.
Out of work and worried he wouldn’t be able to find a way into the sector, Modassir applied for a two-week work experience placement with Willmott Dixon Interiors – it led to a full-time job as part of a site team at St. Michael’s Hospital, Warwick.
“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity Willmott Dixon Interiors has provided,” he said. “It’s ironic how I was once a patient sectioned in a mental health hospital and now I am part of an amazing site team who are helping the NHS to improve these facilities.”
“It was an incredible experience that allowed me to explore my creativity and passion for sustainability. I learned so much from the programme and gained valuable skills and knowledge in sustainable design.”
Student at SATRO, an educational charity working across south central England
“I enjoyed hearing from other people about their education and work experience, and I think it helped a lot with some insecurities I had.”
Student at Oasis Academy South Bank
“All too often employers we work with see barriers and difficulties when opening up their doors to young people with learning disabilities, but Willmott Dixon Interiors see solutions!”
Lisa Quinn, coordinator at Business Education Events
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you and I am so grateful that so many students have been given the opportunity to have experience of the workplace at Willmott Dixon Interiors.”
Sara Swanton, careers manager at Weald of Kent Grammar School