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Calling on the built environment industry to “bridge the gap” with Bristol’s marginalised young people


We’re taking part in a campaign to level the playing field for those looking for a career in the sector


A project working to close Bristol’s equality gap is holding an event to build connections between the city’s built environment employers and young people from marginalised backgrounds.

Held by AtkinsRéalis and Babbasa, the networking event at the newly re-opened We The Curious will see a Built Environment pathway launched as part of the OurCity2030 campaign, which supports young people by opening doors into key sectors.

Launched by the youth empowerment organisation Babbasa in 2022, OurCity2030 is a bold vision to support at least 2,030 young people from low-income households, starting from inner city Bristol, to secure a median salary role by 2030.

Organisers are calling on built environment stakeholders and employers from across the city to attend the event – on Tuesday 16 July from 3.30 to 8 pm – to find out more about getting involved to create meaningful change.

The event follows recent statistics from a House of Commons Committee Report, which found skills shortages in the built environment are hampering the delivery of national infrastructure projects. This is despite figures showing BAME employees make up just six per cent of the workforce.

The push into the sector follows successful pathway launches into the creative industries, and festivals/events sectors – programmes which have helped over 30 young people pursue future careers in the past 12 months..
The Creative & Tech pathway, in partnership with the Bristol Creative Industries, is an example of how the city’s creative businesses have come together to offer internships for underrepresented young people.

Poku Osei, Founding Director of Babbasa, said: “As we’ve seen with the pathway into the creative industries, the model we’ve taken for the OurCity2030 campaign can make tangible differences in areas where it is needed most. I’m particularly excited to see how we can apply those learnings and affect change within Bristol’s built environment sector.

“It’s particularly important at a time when we’re losing bright young and able minds to a life of crime, gangs, and despondency, which is why it’s special to be able to have an agreement for a city-wide model, bringing together private, public and third sector partners together to tackle the problem head-on.”

Sarah Lambshead, Associate Director, Strategic Social Value at AtkinsRéalis said: “At AtkinsRealis we view Social Value as a strategic tool for change. We are keen for our role as lead partner to be used to create systems level change in the way we approach Social Value in the Built Environment in Bristol. This event is designed to spark the conversation around how we leverage it for impact and channel it towards the outcomes of campaigns such as OurCity2030.”

Commenting on the need within the industry, Nikki Davies, CEO of Meeting Place said: “Whilst rewarding career opportunities are out there, Bristol’s built environment sector certainly isn’t as representative as it should be.

“Diversifying the sector isn’t simply a moral imperative to open pathways, but it’s a commercial one for businesses, too. As well as plugging the skills gap, a more representative built environment will be inclusive by design and better able to reflect the communities it serves. In turn, that will aid social mobility and foster a sense of belonging and ownership of our surroundings, making them more desirable areas to live in.

“We’re excited to support the campaign this year and see how we can leverage our client projects across the city to make an even bigger impact.”

Babbasa’s OurCity2030 survey indicated that the top industry interests for young people from Asian and Black backgrounds included the built environment, alongside business & finance, digital, health, and medicine & social care.

Driven by Babbasa and the City Office, the vision is now included as a goal in Bristol’s One City Plan in pursuit of a fairer future for young people in the city. Many Bristol-based businesses have already pledged involvement through sponsorship of the programme.

The Pathway aims to open up employment opportunities in the industry for underrepresented groups and leverage social value commitments in the Built Environment to address inequalities in our city.

Click here to register to attend the event.

Bristol-based businesses, community partners or young people who would like to find out more about the OurCity2030 initiative can email:

Arup, Babbasa, Black South West Network, Bristol & Bath Regional Capital, Bristol City Council (acting through the One City Office), Business West, Cabot Learning Federation, University of Bristol and UWE Bristol are all signed up to the initiative, OurCity2030. Organisations across the built environment sector will be in attendance at the event.

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