Supporting the next generation

This week we’re homing in on what businesses need to do to make a positive impact on the world, looking at what can be achieved through environmental, social and governance initiatives.

One of the priority areas for us is investing in and nurturing new talent. We work hard to forge relationships with further and higher education institutions across the country to give young people an opportunity to gain experience of the property sector – and a place in which they can start their careers.

In this article, we hear what colleges, universities and students have said about HBD.

It’s great to hear nice things, no more so when it’s from the property and construction stars of the future – people with whom we regularly spend our time. This past year, our HBD colleagues have supported young people, giving talks at universities and inviting students to shadow site visits and day-to-day life in the office.

Emily MacNaughtan, a GCSE student from Halifax, recently spent a week working alongside our teams in Leeds and in Manchester, an experience she called “inspiring”. Emily added that the experience gave her “insight into loads of elements of property development”, and the team made her feel really welcome.

Emily was joined on her work experience by fellow student Tilly Norrish, who added that she “wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else” and that her experience “has been perfect!”.

Emily and Tilly are just two students who’ve joined us on work experience this year, and we’re really pleased to have welcomed lots of other budding young property developers – piquing their interest as we show them what we do. In the spring, Robyn Clements joined us, visiting lots of sites and saying that her experience was “really interesting” and that it was “great to see sites in progress and coming to life”.

Jack Chambers is another colleague who’s joined us for work experience this year.  A student at Nottingham Trent University, Jack says he had “hopes of working for a property developer” and that his work experience with HBD in the Midlands allowed him to “tie in what I’ve learnt in my degree with real world development,” adding “it’s been a great experience!”

But it’s not just about work experience placements; we also have a track record for meeting students ad hoc to give them an insight into our work. For the past two years we have worked with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) MSc Interior Design students, showing them pre-development buildings in Manchester and setting them projects and tasks so that they can explore their design ideas. Anagha Ramesh was a student on that course in 2022 and said that the HBD visit in Manchester was “one of the highlights of my masters”.

Her comments were echoed by our friend Marcus Lord, who manages MMU’s relationships with external businesses. He said: “HBD are always great partners for our student projects and give them a great deal of time, resources and expertise”, while MMU’s interior design project lead, Fabrizio Cocchiarella called our collaborations “a pleasure”.

Other similar initiatives this year have included talks at other universities such as Nottingham Trent, where our colleague Tom Matthews gave his time to the Steer Support and Mentoring CIC programme, giving students monthly career advice. And we have worked with Salford University, whose students were given a tour of Kampus, while we met students at Trafford College to talk to them about apprentices too.

We also want to look beyond students already in higher education, also reaching out to secondary and primary schools to engage the next generation of potential property people.

In the past year our colleagues have visited schools such as Jane Lane School in Walsall; the school specialises in delivering SEND education and our colleagues met with year 10 and 11 students and talked to them about our SPARK scheme in the town, as well as helping them with weeding and clearing their overgrown allotment to enable them to plant and grow vegetables.

In Cheltenham, where we’re helping to deliver the major Golden Valley tech and cyber campus, our colleague James Cinicola has been meeting with local students and pupils at schools including Kings Hill, focusing on the cyber skills shortage and ensuring that the next generation in that region can forge a career in the sector.

And in Yorkshire, our colleagues Georgina Ronksley and Sarah Gill have supported the Yorkshire Children’s Charity’s ‘Constructing Careers Property Workshop’. The workshops covered asset acquisition and disposal, planning and development, construction careers, plumbing and asset management – helping the Year 10 students gain an insight into the property sector.

There’s much more still to do and that’s why, on the cusp of a new year, we’re already reaching out to more universities and colleges to ensure that we use our time and expertise to engage and empower the next generation, giving them a platform and the opportunity to break down barriers, and secure their career in property.