Scaling new heights: local construction partnership provides essential work experience to Staffordshire University Graduates

Partnership provides hands-on training to Staffordshire University graduates who have helped play a role in the construction of a £40m building

An artist impression of The Catalyst building at Staffordshire University.

I knew that I wanted to be proactive during lockdown to gain new skills and work experience. When the opportunity to work on The Catalyst project came along, I jumped at the chance to work on such a unique project at the University

Dylan Foster

Through the partnership, the Staffordshire University class of 2020 graduates, who achieved degrees in BA (Hons) Business with Marketing Management and BA (Hons) Graphic Design, completed a month-long internship with construction giants, VINCI Construction UK on The Catalyst project at the University.

Delivered on a weekly rotational basis, the placement programme enables graduates to explore all aspects of the construction industry over four weeks, developing skills such as numeracy, IT, teamwork, and problem-solving. Its weekly rotations include working alongside the site management and engineering teams before cumulating with further weeks in the commercial, project management and design teams.

The partnership was initiated as part of a social value pledge between Staffordshire University and VINCI Construction UK, which aims to positively impact the local city area and local communities throughout the duration of the building project. Alongside offering work placements, its outreach also includes hiring 20 apprentices from the local area, delivering mental health awareness training sessions and committing ten hours per employee time to support local community projects.

Dylan Foster, of Stoke-on-Trent, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Business with Marketing Management and is currently undertaking an MBA at Staffordshire University said, “I knew that I wanted to be proactive during lockdown to gain new skills and work experience. When the opportunity to work on The Catalyst project came along, I jumped at the chance to work on such a unique project at the University.”

“The VINCI team was really welcoming and from day one we were shown how diverse your skills have to be working in the construction sector. The highlights for me have been the commercial side of the placement as it fits in well with business and my degree and being able to see that the work, I’ve done has made an impact on the overall project. It’s amazing to be able to say so early on in my career that I’ve worked on a project like this”

George Lewis, a 2020 graduate in BA (Hons) Graphic Design from Staffordshire University from Shelton added; “I wasn’t sure what to do after finishing my degree and the placement provided me with a great opportunity to learn new skills and experience.”

“I hadn’t planned on going into construction specifically, but it has been a great experience and I know that even if I don’t pursue this as a career, that there is still so much that I’ve learned that I can take into different jobs in the future.”

Samantha Levitt, Careers Relationship Manager at Staffordshire University said, “Our mission is to help Staffordshire University students and graduates to explore their career options. Internships like this, which enable the individual to experience a variety of different aspects of a multi-disciplined sector like construction, provide invaluable opportunities for our students and graduates to build confidence and develop careers skills for life.”

"We’re proud that our graduates had the opportunity to gain such a unique and enriching experience on what will become the centrepiece of our Stoke-on-Trent campus for years to come.”

James Prendergast, Project Manager (The Catalyst Building) of VINCI Construction UK Ltd said, “As Principal Contractor for The Catalyst Building, VINCI are always positive in shaping young minds within the construction industry and have welcomed the opportunity of inviting the graduates and students to attend a four week placement on site to experience the different disciplines on offer within a construction site.

"We are pleased that the experience that George and Dylan have gained will assist with their future career choices.”

Two further graduates of Staffordshire University are set to embark on similar work placements at The Catalyst building with VINCI Construction UK throughout April 2021.

Once complete in Autumn 2021, the landmark 8,800 sqm building, which will be home to more than 6,500 Apprenticeships and the Centre for Business, Innovation and Enterprise will feature innovative teaching and learning spaces, a dedicated flexible events space, as well as new catering provisions.

Watch video interviews with our placement students at the following links:


Find out more about The Catalyst on our Campus Transformation webpages.

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