Haaroon Belaid, Institute of Technology, Barking & Dagenham College, UK
A sense of family led Haaroon from the football pitch to life in the construction industry – and he’s flourishing.
Living with his mum and two little sisters, semi-professional footballer, Haaroon, had to weigh up his love of the game with supporting his family, and ultimately chose the latter.
Luckily, a curiosity for the mechanics behind buildings was just as attention-grabbing as football. Enter YouTube – staying up into the small hours to scour the furthest corners of its construction documentary collection, Haaroon’s part-time passion became a full-time calling.
It’s a different path to the one he imagined, but it’s no less rewarding. Haaroon now studies the Built Environment at Barking & Dagenham College in the UK, a college where ISG transformed an old classroom block into one of the country’s first Institute of Technology centres, taking education into the future of robotics, data and film production. ISG’s relationship with the college has also resulted in building careers, with three students, including Haaroon, joining ISG to learn as they study.
Football isn’t over for Haaroon but his future is his family, and he’s also creating one in construction. “The future?” he asks. “I’d love to grow at ISG and manage a top-notch project like Barking & Dagenham College.”
Every year over 12,000 students, like Haaroon, come through the doors of Barking & Dagenham College in the UK, to embark on the next chapter of their lives.
The college is a classic example of one that is central to its local community.
“It’s hugely important,” says Haaroon, who is studying the Built Environment at the college while learning his trade with ISG on its University College London Gower Street project – a role which came about as a result of ISG’s project to deliver Barking & Dagenham College’s brand-new Institute of Technology.
“It provides the most valuable thing anyone can receive – knowledge. It also gives young people like me an opportunity to start a career in an industry they’re passionate about.”
“The new space looks amazing as you come into the building – it’s decked out in the college colours, and it just makes you want to learn.”
- Haaroon Belaid
The college is now better equipped to cater for students like Haaroon, with its new high-tech learning hub – the last piece of the puzzle for the college’s collection of buildings, and a scheme awarded to ISG via the influential Pagabo framework, which saw it transform an old classroom block into a state-of-the-art learning hub.
The all-new Institute of Technology, which will take the college’s education offering into the future of robotics, data, engineering and TV and film production, has created new teaching spaces, high-tech laboratories, open-plan study areas and a café – it’s a world away from the portacabins that housed students when the old block became redundant.
The acoustics have been upgraded, an issue of vital importance to the college prior to the start of the project. Externally, new glazing and cladding has been installed along with an eye-catching entrance area, which Haaroon believes is the perfect environment for learning. "The new space looks amazing as you come into the building – it’s decked out in the college colours, and it just makes you want to learn,” he says.
The college remained fully operational throughout the 30-week project, maintaining its curriculum – a factor which presented a number of challenges. “There were electrical services in the building that linked to other campuses at the college, which was a real challenge, and there was also damp present in the screed so we couldn’t lay the floor,” explains Dominic Camilleri, divisional director for ISG.
Collaboration with the supply chain got the team through those challenges, and it was another close relationship – this time with the college – that created learning opportunities for students, and in turn, additional value. For Barking & Dagenham College, it wasn’t just about a new building – it was important for its students to be engaged and provided with learning opportunities.
“We worked with the college to give them not just a building to use, but to give students a chance to see what construction is all about.”
- Dominic Camilleri, Divisional Director
Haaroon is one of three Barking & Dagenham College students to have felt that impact. Having been recruited off the back of the project, he is now learning the ropes with ISG as he completes his studies at the college.
“We worked with the college to give them not just a building to use, but to give students a chance to see what construction is all about,” continues Dominic. “This wasn’t just about pipes and wires, floors and ceilings, it was about showcasing the other side of construction – BIM modelling, 3D walkthroughs and virtual reality.”
Senior project manager for ISG, John Lattimore, continues: “The relationship we have with the college has been fundamental. Packaging that up with the apprenticeships we’ve offered shows that we can deliver a fantastic project, and also go the extra mile. That’s what’s been great about this project – the impact beyond the building.”
“The college provides the most valuable thing anyone can receive – knowledge. It also gives young people like me an opportunity to start a career in an industry they’re passionate about.”
- Haaroon Belaid
It’s a partnership which will continue, with the college signed up as one of ISG’s Alliance Partners, who have all committed to collaborate and share knowledge into the future.
For Haaroon, he’s relishing starting his new career: “At the moment I’m focused on learning from my studies and my time on site, but in the future, I’d love to grow at ISG and manage a top-notch project like Barking & Dagenham College.”