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Battersea Power Station: 'Don't do ordinary'

“If you are not excited by what you see today, you might want to change careers,” Mace’s project director Jonathan Foster tells assembled students.

To his left, the iconic Battersea Power Station chimneys provide an amazing backdrop to inspire people to consider a construction career.

But here, Mr Foster is speaking to a willing room of around 40 students already pursuing careers in construction.

They are a mix of men and women from different ethnic and educational backgrounds, some looking for careers as they approach the end of their studies, while others are embarking on their qualifications.

Some have travelled from the Midlands, others live barely a stone’s throw away – including a group from Lambeth College.

To the right of Mr Foster in the marketing suite, the words ‘Don’t do ordinary’ are emblazoned across one wall. A more fitting tribute to Open Doors, you probably couldn’t find.

I ask three of the group why they want to pursue a career in construction. One tells me he could have been an accountant and feels “lucky” he’s pursuing an alternative career path. Another studied maths and physics and fell into construction, while a third has a family background.

Mace does an excellent job of getting its graduates and apprentices to talk to the room and sets out practical ways the people in the room can pursue careers with the company.

Importantly, its employment and community engagement manager Fiona Henderson talks about Mace’s supply chain opportunities.

It’s brilliant to see graduates (who are excellent) showing the tour group around the site. It’s less brilliant that we’re taken to the foot of the chimneys and told we can’t go any further.

Two students tell me how disappointed they are not to have seen the inner workings of the phenomenal site. They’re preaching to the converted.

During the ‘tour’, students fire questions at the Mace graduates ranging from “what piling rigs did you use?” to “how are you tackling asbestos?” and “who is the PQS?”.

Battersea Power Station is an astonishing site that could easily end up providing careers for all the students in the room. It’s just a shame they didn’t really get to see it.

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