April 2021

Investing in the Young Creates a Path to the Future

This year, Hunters has invested more time than ever in supporting students. Working with the University of Reading, a real-life project scenario was devised to enable the students to operationalise theory, get used to working with clients and develop stronger presentation skills.

David Capel, Director at Hunters, explains, ‘We’ve been participating in a five-week module with students called ‘Projects’. The University put the students into teams of eight to work on a simulated practical project.  The teams were made up of around 150 students from the Quantity Surveying, Building Surveying and Construction Management disciplines, and each student contributed to the different aspect of the brief. This year the project was to conduct a building survey and to design and cost a 500m2 extension to a listed campus building to create a flexible, multi-purpose innovation hub.   Students explored design and construction methods as a team, but each discipline had their own core responsibilities: the QS developed the cost plan, the BS prepared a technical survey report, and the CM prepared the programme and logistics.  Each team had a Chairperson who led the group and a secretary to record and submit meeting minutes. On the whole, the students stepped up and worked well as a team, bringing each area into the conversation as necessary.  

‘The overall project (including how students are assessed) is set by University of Reading, but we acted as the Client Advisor who set the client brief – i.e., what we want them to do with the building and how.  Key project requirements for us were that the students considered flexibility, innovation and sustainability.  In Week 1 we presented the client brief to the students.  Week 2, students spent time considering it and developing it within their teams.  Week 3, each team gave us a presentation followed by a feedback session – think X Factor!  Week 4, they knuckled down, and Week 5, they delivered a final project report and attended a Q&A session where we grilled them for 20 minutes on their proposals.  We then scored them on their report and performance during the Q&A and collaborated with the university on the overall module mark.  It’s this collaboration between industry and education that can make a real difference to the students.’

Pippa Boyd, Lecturer at the University of Reading and academic lead for this project is clear about the contribution made by Hunters; ‘We have been very appreciative of the support given to us by Hunters. The students have benefitted enormously from Industry involvement and Hunters have engaged and encouraged the students very skillfully. It’s a crucial part of their degree as it is one of the few opportunities for them to apply their theoretical knowledge to a client-led practical project and to experience the how the different strands of their degree programme come together to prepare them for their future careers.’

The students were invited to score the usefulness of the project and give the academic staff and Hunters feedback on their experience. Their comments were overwhelmingly positive and in particular rated the impact of Hunters’ involvement as very positive. ‘It is very useful to have the clients contributing to the project and the clients in this project have been nothing but helpful whilst giving great feedback to our group.’  ‘This project really helped with tying up everything we have learnt this year.  The clients helped us greatly in understanding what was practical about our design and what aspects needed improvements.’ ‘The project was enjoyable as it was an insight into the industry and gave an insight on how things will be in the real working world.’ ‘This project was great for a better insight into our disciplines. It was great to experience real clients and have them give feedback/comment on the work we produced.’ Added Pippa.

‘Supporting students has never been more important, and this project gives the students time to practise, practise and practise their presentation skills and get invaluable face to face (well zoom to zoom) feedback. The different levels of communication skills became quite apparent, and anything we can do to train the next generation into being able to give a good presentation with professionalism and personality has got to be a good thing. These skills will be invaluable for them to get a job, persuade clients, be listened to and listen, and as an industry we must ensure we do not lose this.’ Commented David

But it’s not just about the students getting something, David added ‘There are so many refreshing things about working with students, new ideas, passion to knuckle down, they worked hard on the pitch. We were also relieved they scored the project highly in their feedback!  Investing in the young creates a path to the future, as Universities and workplaces working together has only got to be a good thing’.

David Capel is a Board Director at Hunters and directs a range of Joint Venture, Cost Consultancy and Employers Agent projects. Pippa Boyd is a lecturer in Construction Technology at Reading University. Our thanks to Adrian Tagg, Associate Professor in Building Surveying, at the University of Reading and Chris Dennis, Senior Employers Agent, at Hunters who were part of making this happen and are in the photos in the article.