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Young people construct a better future – and four houses in two hours!

A group of 40 year 10 students proved that young people can be very constructive, when they took part in a very energetic Construction Challenge at Lewisham College. They learnt new skills, started planning their careers, and built four houses in just two hours!

Students from five South London schools took part in the initiative by Lewisham College1 and Aspire2, which highlighted the attractions of working within the construction industry. At the two-day event, the young people formed themselves into companies, learnt about health and safety, and started to pick up the vital and varied trades they needed to build their house on the second day!

Four mixed teams from John Roan School in Greenwich, Bacon's College in Southwark, Forest Hill School and Addey and Stanhope in Lewisham, and Woolwich Polytechnic took part. The students learnt about painting, brickwork, electrical installation, plumbing, carpentry and joinery, and glazing and plastering – and also met several local companies to learn more about the opportunities available to men and women in the construction industry.

Once the houses had been built, the final product and sales plans were presented to the judging panel, which included Dame Ruth Silver DBE, Principal of Lewisham College, Douglas Hands, Chairman of Governors Lewisham College and representatives from Laing O'Rourke and Felicity J Lord Estate Agents.

The winners were:

Best Use of Design – Red Team

Best Sales and Marketing – Blue Team

Best Use of Practical Construction Skills – Yellow Team

Best Implementation of Health and Safety Regulations – White Team

And the overall winner of Construction Challenge 2008 was the Blue Team.

One of the participants, 14 year old Bradley White of Woolwich Polytechnic said: 'It was a very tiring, but very interesting and an inspiring day. Before taking part in the challenge I had thought about a career in construction but having done this I'm definitely interested now.'

John White, Senior Practitioner, 14-16 work related learning at Lewisham College said: 'We were so delighted with the enthusiasm of absolutely everyone involved. It was an honour to see such application and determination from the students in what was a fun, yet very competitive, environment. The finished submissions and houses were of an astonishingly high standard!'

'With the London Olympics just four years away, and the Government's own building plans for three million houses by 2020, the construction industry is ripe with opportunities for young people,' said Lewisham College's Principal, Dame Ruth Silver DBE. 'We wanted to show the students that will be leaving school over the next few years that there are huge opportunities for men and women in the industry, from bricklaying to business management, and from architecture to carpentry.'

Gwenlian Evans from Aspire, the south east London branch of the national Aimhigher programme, said: 'This challenge was not only a great deal of fun for everyone involved, it also opens up early pathways for a large number of young people to see clearly the sort of opportunities that are available to them in the construction industry.'

Dame Ruth added: We are very grateful to our other sponsors, who have helped to make this event possible. Direct Tools have provided the tools, John Macnamara the boots, and Hanson Brick and Tools the bricks.'

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