Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - David Miller Architects

24 March 2022

People Development sponsored by Cheesmur Building Contractors

David Miller Architects’ Virtual Design Academy & Community Projects

People Development Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 finalist

Getting young people interested in working in the construction industry and helping to give them the skills and confidence to take their first steps has always been a priority for David Miller Architects (DMA). Despite being a small practice, by designing a structured programme of activity and training, since 2015 the company has been able to offer c. 20 week-long, office-based placements a year and its programme has won a number of prestigious social value awards including a City of London Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award and a City of Westminster Lion Award.

David Miller Architects new Virtual Design Academy (VDA) came about because the company was worried about the effects of young people not being able to get relevant experience during the pandemic. Using technology, David Miller Architects are now able to offer its award-winning work experience programme to a wider range of young people across the country. By utilising a sharing platform to provide an open learning experience that equips young people with highly relevant digital design skills, the company is helping to open up the industry, addressing the skills shortage and lack of diversity in the profession. At the same time, it brings real benefits to the company's practice, helping them to recruit and train staff, pilot new digital techniques for knowledge sharing within the practice, all whilst increasing their social added-value offer to clients and ability to win tenders.

The new virtual work experience has been developed using Notion as a sharing platform over three sessions so far; the first pilot trial took place in October 2020, and a second, larger session ran in October 2021 with twelve pupils from years 10 and 12 from four different schools in Liverpool and London, and the most recent session was held in the February 2022 half term. 30 students have taken part and given enthusiastic feedback, having learnt to design a project in Revit in one week and having created an impressive portfolio that they can use in the future. The VDA has allowed David Miller Architects to offer work experience to almost four times the number of students they were previously able to help.

"The knowledge and skills I have gained during my VDA experience made me confident to apply for an architecture course in university. I was already fascinated by the construction industry hence why I applied for experience at VDA, but my experience at VDA assured my interest in the industry." - Selinay Umar, Sir George Monoux Sixth Form College.

Key achievements:

  • By acting as a responsible business, David Miller Architects are developing its own people, and nurturing future generations.

  • Its VDA initiative can reach a larger number and wider range of diverse new talent. 

  • The initiative showcases innovative thinking and the innovative use of digital technology to inspire young people and address the digital skills gap.

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.

About the People Development Award (sponsored by Cheesmur Building Contractors): 

People are our greatest asset and this award recognises organisations that appreciate and nurture their workforce to ensure they maximise the value of everyone’s contribution to the business. By creating inclusive workplaces which support people of all abilities through training initiatives, education, mentoring, support networks and innovative programmes, companies can demonstrate a significant impact on the future of their businesses and the wider construction industry. More info

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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