Lifelong leadership learning in Cumbria

Workington students gain key skills creating solutions for town centre regeneration and sustainable heating

Students from St Joseph’s Catholic High School in Workington have spent the week formulating ideas on how to redevelop the town’s former Opera House site, while fellow pupils have been learning the skills required to deliver a challenging technical project to develop more sustainable heating systems.

The students are taking part in ProjX and Elements programmes organised by the Centre for Leadership Performance for Sellafield Ltd. Elements is Sellafield’s Work Awareness programme and ProjX is funded by Sellafield to support SME’s and micro businesses within the supply chain who often find it difficult to take part in work experience activity. Both programmes provide a platform for young people to have their voices and ideas heard and are designed to involve them in decision-making. 

Twelve ProjX students have been based at Allerdale House working with Allerdale Borough Council as ‘the client’ in their regeneration project for the former Opera House site. Meanwhile ten students on the Elements programme have work working out of Lakes College with staff from Sellafield Ltd and its supply chain partners on the heating challenge.

The programmes are designed to enable young people to explore a range of interests whilst working collaboratively with business professionals and industry experts from across West Cumbria, ranging from large organisations to SMEs, business owners and microbusinesses.

Companies working with the students include Responsive, TÜV SÜD, KBR, Jacobs, Armstrong Watson, NNL, and Baines Wilson. CforLP supports the students throughout the week alongside partners in developing their project brief ideas and solutions.

Nicola Woolley – Secondary Programme Manager at CforLP explains: “The students have had a terrific week learning first hand some of the challenges involved in different real-life projects, the skills required to bring a complex project to life, and the behaviours needed to succeed in the workplace.”

The ProjX brief tasked the students with creating a £500,000 capital project to reuse land formerly occupied by the former Opera House building in Workington as  part of the wider re-development that is currently underway in Allerdale, It must be self-sustaining from a revenue perspective and students must show how their scheme will attract people into the local area, and benefit the community, particularly young people. Plans take into account environmental impact, sustainability and any Health and Safety considerations, time-scale for development and construction, and finance.

The Elements programme challenged the students to help the Sellafield site to move away from central steam heating, and create a sustainable heating system model that other businesses could adopt for new or existing buildings. The Elements team must outline their sustainable heating plan and consider alternative energy sources, why  the change is important, how the heat will be distributed, installation and construction and the business case in terms of cost, savings and benefits.

Each team is tasked with making a presentation at the end of their working week, to ‘sell ‘ their concept to their clients.

ProjX and Elements programmes provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills including teamwork, problem solving, collaboration, innovation, planning and communication. They also meet and interact with industry experts, gaining exposure to a range of businesses, jobs, skill sets and careers.

By participating in the programme students develop their confidence, aspirations and leadership skills, and gain a greater understanding of the range of disciplines and job roles in a workplace,

They get to experience project management and business processes through real work scenarios, build greater understanding of the workplace environment, and develop skills and behaviours needed to succeed in the workplace.

The programmes at the same time give students insights into the range of local businesses in the area and careers available, including less visible jobs and roles.

Lifelong Leadership Learning in Cumbria