Apprentices working in Southwark's development industry took part in a panel discussion today (2 April), to highlight the viability of their chosen career paths and to present the potential benefits of investing in young people to employers.
Taking place at the Passmore Centre, London South Bank University’s business and networking hub, the event was chaired by Councillor Johnson Situ, Southwark Council’s cabinet member for growth, development and planning. Apprentices at British Land (Bode Adeloye), Berkeley Homes (Tyreke Borg) and Lendlease (Lauren Sheppard), spoke about how and why they became apprentices at their respective organisations.
Their counterparts, Emma Cariaga, head of operations at British Land; Stav Aristokle Hill, apprenticeship programme manager at Berkeley Homes and Kirsty Lansdown, project director at Lendlease, also took part in discussions.
The event featured the launch of the 21st edition of Southwark magazine, the longstanding regeneration title produced by 3Fox International in partnership with Southwark Council. There were 85 delegates at the event, who each have a stakehold in the development industry.
Referring to the new event format, Situ said: “Often at these launches, we have some really good opportunities to hear from investors in the borough, but this is an opportunity to hear from the apprentices, who hopefully, in 20 to 30 years, will occupy those chief executive roles and be the next generation of investors.”
Apprentices on the panel drew on their experiences since taking the decision to embark on programmes and the range of opportunities available: Borg is enrolled on a steel fixing apprenticeship, while Sheppard is helping develop Lendlease’s digital marketing programme and Bode is also looking at digital innovations which could benefit British Land.
Panel topics included the importance of networking opportunities, which enable apprentices at different organisations to learn from each other, and how developing programmes which resonate with younger people can help these firms forge a secure future workforce.
Other keynote speeches included an introductory address from Southwark mayor, Catherine Rose, who communicated the need for employers in the borough to tap into "an unrivalled skills-base", referring to younger people in Southwark. “Having apprentices and graduates within your organisation gives you a unique opportunity to gain market insight. They are your business face for the next 10 to 15 years,” she added.
Cariaga said the value of apprenticeships on British Land had been “extraordinary”: “We make a big push about 'diversity of thought' as a business, and when we’re trying to envisage what a new town centre will look like, how people are going to live, how they’re going to work, what they’re going to be interested in doing, it’s no good just looking at people like me, because I’m not going to be there in 25 years looking for a job, but they will. Having apprenticeships in our team is providing that diversity of thought and that is of huge value to British Land.”
Situ also spoke of the launch of a new consultation charter for the borough: “We have been able to deliver outstanding outcomes for our residents but far too often the pace of change has sat uncomfortably with communities, and there has been the question of how we can ensure we’re working with those communities every step of the way.
“Our consultation charter will work with residents right across the borough to ensure that when new schemes are being developed, local communities will continue to remain at the heart of those programmes.”
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