Construction students have undertaken additional health and safety training with energy company ENGIE after being unable to attend work placements because of the pandemic.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, there were 40 work-related deaths in the construction industry in 2019-20 and each year there are 61,000 injuries.
ENGIE provided free online modules to further develop skills and knowledge of plumbing and electrical students at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL).
COVID restrictions across the UK meant many companies were not able to provide the work experience to students that normally forms a valuable part of their studies.
The training covered health and safety, fire safety, manual handling, asbestos awareness, legionella, risk assessments, working at height, stress awareness and young people at work.
Plumbing student Niah Abrams, 17, from Enfield, said: “I wasn’t too disappointed when we were told that we wouldn’t be able to do a placement because of the pandemic, because I had got some experience outside of college shadowing a plumber.
“For some of those on the course who might not have had that opportunity it was better than not being able to do anything at all. It was good that the college was able to make this happen and help us in this way.
“It taught us more about what happens in the real world, including a whole section on asbestos and legionnaire’s disease. It has given me more knowledge and extra insight if I come across anything like this, so I will know what to do.
“I also learnt that young people are more at risk at work because they because they have more strength and energy, and they might wear themselves out and not take a break to try and impress their employer.”
ENGIE also created a virtual video tour for students of a construction site in Green Lanes, Haringey, where it is working in partnership Clarion Housing Group to build 133 new homes along with an NHS facility and energy centre to power the development.
Karen Field, Social Value Manager for ENGIE, said: “Due to COVID-19 restrictions work placements were unfortunately not possible, so ENGIE made a site tour film with the help of our site team and offered virtual construction-based courses, which the students could do as part of their course.
“These have proved to be really successful with the students and enabled them to increase their knowledge on a variety of subjects linked to the courses they are taking.”
CONEL chose a selection of modules created by ENGIE for new employees of the company that were related to the students’ studies, with each module assessed through a test.
Latoya Patrick-Johns, Employer Engagement and Placement Coordinator for Construction, said: “Work placements give students the opportunity to gain real-life work skills that increases their knowledge and helps them to make informed career choices.
“These modules were designed by ENGIE for its new employees as part of their induction with the company, and were a great alternative to placements during the pandemic..
“Our students were able to get this training for free, which will give them the advantage of already having these skills and certificates to enhance their CVs and employability.
“We are very grateful to ENGIE for providing this opportunity to our students.”