Alconbury Weald case study: Career change opportunities in construction


The construction industry has a wide range of career opportunities, not just for apprentices and school leavers, but for all ages and abilities including people looking to retrain having started on a different career path.

Community charity Groundwork East runs an employment and skills project called Green Team, which takes groups of volunteers from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences and provides training in landscaping and horticulture whilst improving local community spaces.

The Spring 2019 Green Team, funded  by Urban&Civic and EDGE Construction Skills Centre, saw the transformation of the Margaret Wright Community Orchard in the Abbey Ward. Over the course of 14 weeks, the team learned new skills and constructed a paved disabled access pathway, a raised stage area, two ponds, a rockery and three shed platforms as well as constructing four large raised planters.

Not only did the team gain valuable practical experience, they were also awarded qualifications to help boost their job prospects: City & Guilds Level 1 Diploma in Practical Horticulture and City & Guilds Level 1 in Employability.

At the end of the course, the volunteers were given mock interviews to help build their confidence and ensure they were prepared for the types of questions they would be faced with in real life interview situations. Included on the interview panel was Nick Archer from Encore Estate Management, which is responsible for the maintenance and management of green areas and public spaces in developments such as Alconbury Weald.

Nick said: “I was really impressed by the volunteers, their attitude and resilience, and what they achieved as part of the Green Team. It was great to see how far they had come from their first days on the course to the mock interviews at the end. We had opportunities at Encore following the course and are delighted that Andrew has joined us. He is working as part of  a mobile unit covering a number of sites across Cambridgeshire and is doing a fantastic job.”

In recognition of their hard work, Andrew and his colleague in the mobile unit were awarded Employees of the Month in September 2019.