By Joanna Clarke, Building Integration Manager at SPECIFIC
In my role as STEM Ambassador, which is to engage and enthuse young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, it’s been back to school for me this week.
On Thursday morning, I took part in the BBC School Report with Year 9 pupils, Matthew Barclay and Morgan Gwynn, from Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr who practised their interview skills, by questioning me on our Energy Positive Building demonstrators; the Active Classroom and the Active Office – you can read articles and reports by the pupils here. The BBC School Report is a journalism project for students aged 11 to 18 across the UK, giving them the chance to develop their media literacy skills and produce their own stories about subjects that matter to them.
In the afternoon, I visited Bryncoch Church in Wales Primary School where I planted seeds with some of the Year 4/5 children for inclusion in the living wall of the Active Office and the Post-industrial Garden soon to be developed near the Active Office (funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant). Swansea University’s Biodiversity Officer, Ben Sampson, accompanied me to the school to explain the value of including biodiversity elements in the built environment and the importance of planting native species near the sensitive Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Crymlyn Burrows, adjacent to Swansea University’s Bay Campus. He also explained the reason for the creation of a Post-industrial Garden at the University, which is to represent the industrial heritage of Wales.
It is critical that we engage the younger generation in our work. When reviewing the UK construction industry in 2016, Mark Farmer* identified the problems facing the UK construction industry which stem from a reducing skilled labour force, partly due to an ageing population of construction workers and partly down to the loss of European labour after Brexit. It is widely acknowledged that we are not attracting nearly enough young people into construction, so we all have a job to do in showing youngsters the exciting mix of careers available within the construction industry. While skills, such as bricklaying and carpentry are still very much needed and in short supply, there are a whole host of other opportunities in skilled craftsmanship and in digital and manufacturing led careers. This is in addition to professions like architecture, engineering, project management and quantity surveying, for example. A more in-depth discussion on this can be found in an interview with Mark Farmer here. Next week, I’m off to Gnoll Primary School for some more seed planting!