PRESS RELEASE: Engaging the Next Generation in the PM’s ‘New Deal’

  • The Prime Minister has today announced a £5bn ‘New Deal’ investment, to create jobs skills and infrastructure for Britain after years of reduced investment;
  • Hospitals, rail, roads, prisons, high streets and schools are all included in the accelerated capital spend;
  • The environmental and sustainability credentials of these projects have been met with immediate and significant concern from the construction industry;
  • The repayment of this £5bn investment will take many years and young people will foot that bill in their taxes


LONDON, UK: Built Environment Skills in Schools (BESS) today responded to the government’s ‘New Deal’ announcement with a commitment to actively engage young people as stakeholders and active citizens in the upcoming projects covered by this capital investment.


The “Guerrilla Stakeholders” framework, delivered by BESS, targets young people whose views are not formally sought by construction, but who will be the future product-users and taxpayers of projects created through this unique investment opportunity. Guerrilla Stakeholders empowers young people as active citizens of their built environment, using existing relationships with schools to share consultations with simplified proposals and project details in the form of lesson plans. BESS also provides schools with a database of live consultations collated from sources across the UK.


Kathryn Lennon-Johnson, founder of BESS, said, “The built environment matters. It has consequences. The things we build affect generations to come and making the wrong choices now will make us more susceptible to future pandemics. ‘Guerrilla Stakeholders’ encourages students to engage in consultations and give their thoughts on carbon reduction, sustainability, and the green recovery. We don’t have time to waste; we must build the right things in the right way, not just for this moment but with a clear vision of the future in mind. Young people are keen to focus on utilising a circular economy approach for the life of the building, and giving clear consideration to flexible use, energy efficiency, and care for materials choices.”


Previous Guerrilla Stakeholder consultations have highlighted students’ views on the redevelopment of high streets. Students held strong views on the high streets they want for their future, and the government’s plan to requisition empty shops to convert to homes could change the narrative of micro-communities. The Prime Minister’s statement today to introduce radical planning reforms and promise to ‘scythe through red tape’ will be seen as a commitment to developers at the expense of communities and the environment.


Young people have also expressed regular concern about the prioritisation of roads over more sustainable forms of transport. There is currently a huge uptick in applications for healthcare apprenticeships as a result of COVID-19 and this provides an opportunity to work with the future workforce of healthcare to co-create better, healthier hospitals.


Construction organisations are encouraged to actively seize this chance to gain feedback, ideas, contribution and engagement from the emerging generation of active citizens. Guerrilla Stakeholders also provides an opportunity to inspire and help address the industry’s ongoing skills shortage and lack of appeal with a potential new workforce.