Students Pitch at Skills Event Dragon’s Den Style
Carmarthenshire County Council and Bouygues UK, who are currently delivering the new prestigious, multi-million pound development Pentre Awel, held a Dragon’s Den style event to celebrate their 21st Century skills work experience scheme.
Five local schools in Llanelli – Bryngwyn School, Coedcae School, Ysgol Pen Rhos, St John Lloyd RC Comprehensive and Ysgol Y Strade – took part in the event aimed at empowering learners to discover careers in construction and design, a culmination of a 12-week learning and mentoring programme based around the world of building and construction.
When the scheme was launched in May 2023, each school was given a brief to design a collaborative workspace, that aligned with the ethos of Pentre Awel; innovation, positive health and well-being and environmentally-sustainable design. During that time, they were mentored by Bouygues UK staff and had visits to site several times to develop their designs briefs and help them prepare for their final pitch to a panel of judges. The judging panel was made up of a diverse group of professionals from Bouygues UK, Carmarthenshire County Council and Gleeds Project Consultancy.
The pupils had just 10-minutes to put their best foot forward and showcase their final designs, including the development journey they had been on and examples of how their mentors helped them along the way.
Each school was responsible for their pitch and how they wanted to present to the panel, with some writing additional bid documents to support their presentation, some presenting 3D scale models, and others demonstrating digital fly-throughs of their designs. One group brought along a collection of plants to demonstrate their biophilic wall design.
The designs on the day were so impressive that the judges found it difficult to single out one school as an overall winner; St John Lloyd RC Comprehensive and Ysgol Y Strade were crowned joint winners while primary school Ysgol Pen Rhos won the innovation/sustainability award for their biophilic design and carbon capture ideas.
Nina Williams, Bouygues UK’s social value advisor for Pentre Awel, said:
“The input from all the schools was outstanding with some amazing designs and concepts based around the four themes. The most rewarding part has been the way in which the learners have developed in confidence”.
At the beginning of the experience they were all very nervous to ask questions, the mentors being unfamiliar to them, but by the time they were preparing for their final pitch, they were working round the table, firing off ideas, listening to the mentor’s advice and having conversations about how to change and improve their designs. The project has helped the schools to build future relationships with industries, utilising the knowledge and experience of professionals to enhance and develop their knowledge base which can be applied in their future curriculum design.
Project Director Peter Sharpe said:
“It’s been really refreshing to take time out of my normal day-to-day activities to listen to the five presentations. The information and depth of knowledge and understanding of the brief were absolutely fantastic. I’m sure there will be some aspects of the learner’s designs that we could incorporate into the building. A project like this is of great value to the world of construction”.
Aeron Rees, Head of Strategy and Learner Support at Carmarthenshire County Council, added:
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to be part of the judging panel. The youngsters equipped themselves very well and they were inspiring in what they had to say and what they delivered. This project shows a superb example of the synergy between the business community and education, and we are really indebted to Bouygues UK and our colleagues in the council for facilitating this for our learners”.
As part of Bouygues UK’s commitment to provide significant social value and engagement to surrounding schools, colleges and universities, there is also a school ambassadors scheme. Bouygues UK is keen for the children to share their ideas and help shape the project, which in turn will enable them to see first-hand the work that goes into the construction process. The children will make regular visits to the site to see the progress being made and will work on school projects centred around construction and building.
The 21st Century Skills initiative is part of a broader programme of community benefits to be delivered during the development of Zone 1 of Pentre Awel to realise social, economic, cultural, and environmental benefits. This includes targeted recruitment and training, community engagement, STEM activities and supply chain engagement.
Pentre Awel is a truly collaborative scheme being delivered for the local community by Carmarthenshire County Council in partnership with Hywel Dda University Health Board, Universities and colleges and is part-funded by the Swansea Bay City Deal (£40million). It aims to create around 1,800 jobs over 15 years and boost the local economy by more than £450m.
The development will include a new state-of-the-art leisure centre and hydrotherapy pool together with education, research and business development space; a clinical research and delivery centre; and a well-being skills centre. Externally, Pentre Awel will enjoy landscaped outdoor public spaces for recreation, walking and cycling.