Leading building products manufacturer Forterra launched Bricklaying Forterra Females (BFF) on Monday, a groundbreaking competition that took place as part of a wider construction skills day to kick off our National Apprenticeship Week activities.
BFF is a brand new national competition which aims to find the best female student bricklayers in the country, whilst encouraging more girls and women to consider careers in bricklaying or construction. Statistics show that women currently make up just 2% of hands-on construction workers in the UK, a figure which has barely changed for over 15 years.
The competition saw four female student bricklayers from colleges across the UK compete for six hours to build an International Women’s Day-themed competition piece. The pieces were judged by Christian Hatherall-Good, Head of Construction Curriculum at Brooklands College in Weybridge, and our very own brickwork lecturer Demetrios Savvides.
17-year-old Naomi Hamilton of Brooklands College was crowned the winner, followed closely by Charlotte Springer, also of Brooklands College, and Tangina Choudhury from Barnfield College coming in at third.
Sector Skills Advisor Bob Noseda, who was instrumental in organising the competition, said:
We’re very proud to have hosted the first BFF competition. Every national competition has to start somewhere, and we will hopefully be able to look back on today as a legacy event.
The competition received further support from the Brick Development Association and the Association of Brickwork Contractors. Such backing from industry leaders helps to raise the importance and profile of events like this one, particularly to encourage greater female participation in construction trades.
Kerri Chambers, who herself won a bricklaying competition we previously hosted and is now a successful Assistant Quantity Surveyor for a London construction firm, said:
The industry is always looking for more people to join up, and these days there are more options for women who want to get involved and build a career in the sector. It’s great that a company like Forterra is helping to raise the profile of women in bricklaying by organising the BFF competition. I began my career as a bricklayer when I was 19, and ten years on I’ve managed to progress in the industry.
This competition will be succeeded by Forterra’s Best in London Brick competition on March 29th, which we will also be hosting.
Our Student Services team recently hosted two volunteering fair days for both students and staff.
The aim of the fair days was to get as many students and staff as possible to make a pledge to the #iwill campaign with a local charity or organisation and commit to some volunteering. Ultimately, we wanted people to realise that they could be the change their local community needs.
The fairs were kicked off with a talk from a youth ambassador from the Step Up to Serve charity (pictured above). She spoke about how and why she got into volunteering, the change it has brought to her life, and why everyone should become volunteers in their communities.
Students from different courses, backgrounds and interests then pledged to get involved in making a difference with causes that matter to them using the #iwill campaign pledge cards. There were various organisations present including Tapestry, Saint Francis Hospice and NCS – The Challenge amongst others.
The types of pledges ranged from the giving of time to posting about community issues on social media and trying to support local young people on said issues. One student pledged to ‘make a change to better [her] life and the lives of others in [her] community.’
Student Development Worker Gemma-Louise Piggott, who was instrumental in organising the fair days, said:
The fairs were a great opportunity for staff and students alike to realise how big a difference the littlest actions can make. If every person decided to make one change to benefit the community, then we could see real change in the places we call home.
Overall, the fair days were a great success and a lot of interest was gauged. What will you pledge to do?
It was only last week that we announced one of our fashion students as being a competition finalist, and this week we celebrate more fantastic news from the creative arts department.
Level 3 Fashion students Aaiza Arshad and Kamile Lenkutyte, together with Level 3 Photography student Poppy Boothe, will be taking part in the Fashion Awareness Direct (FAD) Fashion Futures project this year. They will follow in the footsteps of former students Holly Coutts, Ruqiya Ahmed and, most recently, Abby Foley, who made it to the finals and had her work showcased at London Fashion Week last year (pictured above).
FAD is a non-profit organisation that strives to help young creatives establish a sustainable career regardless of their background. In particular, the Fashion Futures project is an award-winning initiative that offers students an unrivalled insight into the fashion industry, supported throughout by experienced fashion professionals.
The project will allow Aaiza, Kamile and Poppy to develop their research, design, pattern cutting and garment construction skills, all the while developing their confidence and creativity.
It will take place every Saturday until the end of this term. After the Easter break, 20 finalists will be selected to continue with the project over summer, where they will make the garment which will again be showcased at this year’s London Fashion Week in September.
Fashion lecturer Julia McAusland said:
This is our third group of students to take part in the Fashion Futures project and we hope that many more will do so in the future. It is a fantastic opportunity for them to gain industry experience like no other and develop professionally as well as creatively.
We wish all three students success in this exciting project.
Lucy Cousins, one of our Level 3 Fashion students, has been selected as a finalist for the Royal Opera House’s costume design challenge.
The brief was to design costumes for three characters from Kenneth Macmillan’s hit recreation of Romeo and Juliet and then construct a costume that could be worn by one of said characters – Lucy chose to make her costume for Juliet’s nurse.
She was required to carry out lengthy research before submitting a 90 second video pitching her designs and three photos of the completed one, whilst explaining the relevance of her costume to the scene and character.
The judging panel said of Lucy’s design:
It is a well-researched design with a clear pathway to the final costume outcome; an excellent response to the brief. The supporting evidence demonstrates thoughts and process to a high level, leading to creativity and imagination in the designs. The garment is very well made with interesting elements and a close attention to detail. You have interpreted the director’s vision to a high standard.
Such opportunities place our students in great stead for their future careers and give them crucial work experience to make them stand out.
The winner of the competition will be announced on Friday 1st March at 12pm. Good luck Lucy!
We recently caught up with Luke James and Zak Jay, two ex-engineering students who have returned to College as part of their apprenticeship.
Both of them studied the Level 2 Performing Engineering Operations Diploma in the last academic year after a swift career change. During this time, they undertook work experience at Merlin Entertainments, one of the Europe’s largest entertainment companies.
Much to their delight, and ours, they were both offered apprenticeships with Merlin following their work experience placements, hence their return to College for the classroom-based learning element.
It was reassuring to learn that both of them are thoroughly enjoying their apprenticeships and wouldn’t have been where they are without the College. When asked why they specifically chose to study with us initially, both were quick to sing our praises. They said:
Havering is the most reputable local College and has the best facilities for Engineering. The staff are knowledgeable, approachable and helped secure good opportunities, which lead to where we are now.
Our Engineering Career College helped with Luke and Zak’s professional development. Through it, they were able to improve their knowledge and confidence, which no doubt contributed to the end result of them securing jobs.
Following their apprenticeships, both students are hoping to stay within the Merlin group and potentially relocate to different attractions. We wish them the best of luck for the future!