Osborne organised for “Construction News” to take a tour of Roehampton University, as part of Open Doors Week.
“Students from the College of North-west London are putting their Osborne-branded PPE on when there’s a half-stifled moan in the corner of the room.
“It’s 1-0 – Gareth Bale!” says a member of Osborne’s team.
Osborne is taking a group of BTEC students round this project for University of Roehampton at the exact moment England are playing Wales in the 2016 European Championships, which may well have distracted some of the expected attendees away from the tour.
Those who are with us are fully committed, however, and following an introduction to the scheme led by two of Osborne’s emerging talent Harry Weymouth and Hudson Holt, the group spends more than an hour exploring the site.
Osborne is building a new £24m library for the university, which is currently an expanse of concrete slab floors, steel frame supports and brick facades.We go five flights up concrete steps and look out over the library footprint, watching scaffolding scale up, with the Open Doors group discussing how the enormous concrete pieces were so cleanly fixed together.
All of the students on the tour – who range from 20 years old to early 40s – are studying electrical qualifications. But when the unique cooling system is explained, there are further questions for Osborne to answer.
The floors will be cooled by pipes containing cold water embedded into the concrete, enabling the library to provide students with a better controlled working and learning environment.
Prior to commencing work on the library, Osborne was already on site building student accommodation, around which the tour is taken before the visit ends.
Here, the group’s interest in electrical really shows, as they comb over the fit-out of lift wiring, smoke alarms and a server stack.
Both the student digs and the library are due to complete in time for a new intake of students in September 2017, and senior project manager Chris Hickman says the programme is several weeks ahead of schedule.
But it’s vital that those interested in the industry see construction in its full throes, he says. “If it’s not a live site, it’s boring,”
Osborne’s business improvement manager Andy Burrows agrees. “That’s the approach we need: we want people to come on to the site and think, ‘What a cool environment’.
“Open Doors isn’t necessarily about recruiting. It’s more showing how many roles there are, and the different routes into the industry.”
One route is simply asking questions: as the tour ends, two from the group ask how to apply for jobs with Osborne.
This particular Open Doors visit then has not only helped educate people on the industry’s work but also connected people with opportunities to forge a career. Two goals achieved – which, of course, is also what England eventually managed against Wales.”