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Open Doors offers a vital glimpse of the other side

This week more than 200 sites across the UK have invited thousands of youngsters, local residents and construction enthusiasts for a glimpse behind the scenes.

Millions of people walk past site hoardings every day, with few understanding what’s happening on the other side.

Site managers are usually more likely to get engagement from local residents angry at the creation of noise or dust than enquiring about jobs or the legacy the projects leave for communities, but Open Doors offers a different perspective.

Schoolchildren, their teachers or people looking for work can take a rare look at the type of career construction can offer.

Monday’s site visits by CN staff were a perfect example of the varied work going on across the UK at present.

Reporter Jack Simpson was on a riverboat tour looking at the £4bn Tideway super sewer on the Thames, an astonishing feat of engineering that has attracted local and political opposition. But those who joined him saw the opportunities it created.

With Jack on the tour were representatives from a local Jobcentre, looking to get unemployed people into construction and working on the capital’s projects, as well as Westminster College’s first year BTech civil engineering students who will help build the UK’s future infrastructure.

In Scotland, Lucy Alderson spoke to Kier about how it uses virtual reality headsets to show kids how the Marr College is being built for South Ayrshire Council.

She spoke with nine-year-old Ross and his mother Clair about what they had seen when they visited the site, and it was good to hear Clair talk about the need to get kids into STEM subjects.

Back in London, former Fulham and Wigan Athletic footballer Jimmy Bullard was going back to his roots as he laid bricks at Willmott Dixon’s regeneration of Alexandra Palace.

He told CN’s James Wilmore about his father’s company, which he worked for while trying to make the breakthrough in football as a 16-year-old. His work included renovating a Grade II-listed pub and later going on to build a family villa in the Algarve.

But as he said himself: “It’s not all about being on a building site.” It’s a part of his life he was proud to revisit for Open Doors, but a career in construction ranges from accountancy and law, to laying bricks and digital engineering.

Hopefully this week’s activities will have helped change a few perceptions on the opportunities created by the construction industry.

Construction News is a proud partner of Open Doors again this year. Our team visited dozens of sites throughout the UK.

Find all our coverage online as it goes up.


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