More than 120 Year 8 students at Ernulf Academy were given an opportunity to explore career opportunities in construction through a series of fun and informative activities that included house and bridge building challenges.

EDGE Skills event (Ernulf Academy)EDGE Skills event (Ernulf Academy)

EDGE, the jobs and skills partnership that provides tangible links between education and employment, brought together experts from master developer Urban&Civic, Morgan Sindall Construction and Breheny Civil Engineering to help inspire the students and address some misconceptions about the industry.

In the morning, a team from Morgan Sindall Construction set a housebuilding challenge that was judged on a number of criteria including cost, sustainability and design innovation. The children were divided into groups and asked to assign job roles to each member; these included a project manager, estimator, planner and design manager. A series of questions about their skills and interests helped them decide which roles they were best suited to adopt.

The children then had to measure the box they were given, review materials available and work out costs before 'buying them' and applying them to their building. Helen Clements, community investment advisor at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: "It was wonderful to see so much enthusiasm from all of the children that took part, who all worked so well together in their allotted groups. The standard of work was set extremely high, we received some fantastic ideas and were very impressed with all of the designs submitted. In the end, we narrowed the winners down to the best three designs and also awarded a 'highly commended' accolade to one of the submissions, which was very well designed but slightly over budget."

In the afternoon, the children moved around four different activities. As well as a bridge building exercise with Breheny and a careers talk from Morgan Sindall Construction, the children also had an opportunity to consider all the different aspects that go into designing a school - from classrooms and corridors to practicalities like toilets and parking - and were given magnetic white boards with the core components and marker pens to see who could design the most comprehensive layout.

Urban&Civic completed the afternoon's round robin by providing a myth buster exercise, where the children were asked to consider myths about the construction industry and find the corresponding 'busters'. Torie Denny-Morley, skills lead for Urban&Civic, said: "There was a real buzz about the enrichment day. The students embraced the experience and it was great to be able to explain the career opportunities available in the construction industry in a fun but informative way.

"With so many exciting development projects taking place or planned in the area over the next 15-20 years - not just at Urban&Civic's strategic sites at Wintringham, Alconbury Weald and Waterbeach barracks but across the whole region - there are lots of career opportunities for year 8 students to consider when they come to consider their GCSE options."

Ernulf Academy's enrichment days introduce students to new experiences and provide opportunities for them to work together to challenge perceptions, learn new skills and broaden their interests.

Brogan Webber from Ernulf Academy said: "Our year 8 students really enjoyed the construction-themed enrichment day, and many were surprised by the range of jobs, salaries and career opportunities available in the industry. The children particularly enjoyed the morning session, where they created their own buildings, and we were very impressed by the different designs and quality of the buildings created."