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Good practice case studies

Challenging stereotypes – Greater London Authority

….and showcasing London’s infrastructure sector to primary school aged children (as well as their parents and teachers)


In 2017, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, established the Mayor’s London Infrastructure Group (LIG), which is comprised of senior executives across infrastructure providers, regulators, government and wider industry. The Mayor and the 25 members of the LIG meet bi-annually to work to agree on a common vision for long-term infrastructure planning and jointly tackle issues in the infrastructure sector. In 2020, the Mayor and the LIG commissioned research into the key barriers to employing and retaining talent from across London’s diverse population. In response to the findings, the LIG and the GLA made four pledges, all of which seek to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) across the sector, including the pledge to “reach every primary school in London to highlight potential careers in the infrastructure sector – promoting the sector more widely and highlighting pathways into the sector for underrepresented groups from an early age.” To fulfil this pledge, the GLA partnered with LIG members to bring infrastructure professionals to volunteer in classrooms across London. 

In 2021, the GLA appointed Education for Employers to deliver Building Future London (BFL), an outreach programme to primary school pupils in years five and six. BFL brought diverse volunteers into classrooms who worked in various roles in the infrastructure and construction sector. This served to highlight the wide range of roles available – challenging the idea that all infrastructure jobs require a hard hat – as well as demonstrating that the sector is a viable and attractive career path for all children. Volunteers would lead pupils through a discussion of their role and the industry and then guide them through a hands-on activity highlighting the skills they frequently used in their work.  The programme highlighted, for students and parents, the different jobs roles and role models in the sector in order to improve the diversity of the talent pipeline in the infrastructure and construction sector. 


The resulting Building Future London programme surpassed its objectives – with 50 volunteers (which included the following LIG member organisations:  Thames Water, Tideway, TfL, UKPN, Network Rail MWS, National Grid, HS2, Environment Agency and Cadent Gas many from LIG members) reaching 3,451 pupils in 31 schools across London. Teachers from participating schools were interviewed as part of the evaluation process, with results finding: 

  1. Ninety-two per cent agreed that their pupils had broadened their horizons and learned about new jobs they did not know about before. 
  2. Eighty-four per cent claimed that their pupils had learned there are lots of jobs available to them when they grow up. 
  3. Sixty-one per cent agreed that their pupils understood that learning at school is good for future opportunities; and that there are lots of jobs that use science and maths. 
  4. One hundred per cent agreed that the children had an opportunity to listen to and learn from others.

These results from just a single programme demonstrated the appetite for infrastructure careers-related content to be delivered in primary schools, with a focus on improving EDI in the sector, from both schools and the infrastructure sector itself.

Lessons learnt and next steps

The unique role of the LIG as a forum that brings together senior leaders from across London’s infrastructure sector was instrumental in being able to deliver the programme. Objectives and key principles were agreed in discussion with LIG members, securing buy-in at senior level. The programme was then designed and delivered collaboratively with detailed input from the LIG’s EDI Forum, which brings together EDI and HR specialists from LIG member organisations.

This approach continues to be extremely valuable as the team learns from the BFL programme and continue their work to engage with primary school aged children about the benefits and role of careers in the infrastructure sector, in order to ensure a diverse pipeline of talent. Many LIG member organisations already engage with schools and in order to maximise the reach of the message about diversity and careers in the infrastructure sector, it makes sense to enhance what is already taking place rather than designing a stand-alone programme. Informed by these learnings and to capitalise on the success of the BFL programme, the GLA is now developing a curriculum in partnership with LIG members, that can be used to add-to, enhance or kick-start engagement activities across London’s infrastructure sector by LIG members. The curriculum will provide lesson plans, presentation templates and content suggestions, as well as guidance for volunteers, that LIG members can then use in their outreach with schools. The focus will be on highlighting to children, teachers and their parents the wide range of roles that exist in the infrastructure sector, presenting diverse role models to challenge stereotypes and explaining how infrastructure is a crucial part of meeting net zero and climate adaptation objectives. Opportunities for pooling volunteer resources across the LIG and ways of coordinating engagement with schools across different organisations are also being explored.