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Building better futures

Building better futures

The University of Manchester’s Campus Masterplan is transforming its physical environment, creating a more environmentally sustainable campus and making a difference to individuals’ lives.

Building on the foundations of its social responsibility goals, the University is investing in projects that will benefit staff, students, local residents and visitors.


The UK construction industry faces a skills shortage, and unemployed local residents find it hard to access new opportunities.

The Works, an employer-led onestop-shop in the University’s local community, is helping to address these issues.

A partnership between the University and Manchester’s Growth Company, this award-winning initiative has transformed more than 4,150 lives by placing unemployed people in work at the University and its construction partners – Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine and, more recently, Vinci. The social and economic value generated is equivalent to an estimated £60.6 million a year.

Through The Works, the University also operates the Construction Academy, offering the Construction Skills Certification Scheme qualification, as well as mathematics, English and health and safety courses.

Learners can opt to receive further training such as plumbing or electrical skills or go straight into an available job.

“The support can mean a difference between somebody being isolated and unemployed for a longer period of time to them moving on, becoming more confident and making a difference to their lives,” says Michelle Handley, Skills and Recruitment Manager at The Works.

One such employee is David Seville, from Middleton, who was referred to the Construction B Academy following a long term injury. After completing the basic skills course he was offered a four-week placement with Balfour Beatty and then a full-time position on the Manchester Engineering Campus Development.

“Being unemployed for 13 years made me a recluse,” says David. “The Academy has been better than anything I've ever done before.”


The unique collaboration between the University’s construction partners has helped more than 150 people, including apprentices and graduates, to find employment across key University projects. Each partner, along with the University, has also donated to the University Construction Community Fund to support neighbourhood initiatives close to University construction sites.

This fund has awarded £45,000 so far to projects ranging from after-school clubs to workshops to support refugee integration.

One example has seen student volunteers and staff from the University and Laing O’Rourke staff work with the Women’s Direct Action Centre in nearby Plymouth Grove to transform the centre’s garden, with the fund covering the costs of equipment.

“Creating benefit for local communities has been a key priority for the University,” Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility at the University, says.

“The joint fund has strengthened our links with some of our nearest neighbours and improved social and environmental well-being through the funding of 21 innovative projects in 2017 and 2018.”

Our campus is at the forefront of sustainable construction.


Campus redevelopment has presented an opportunity to embed sustainability within the estate and increase the positive impact on the environment.

Buildings are using less carbon and 40% less water than standard practice. More than 95% of construction waste has been reused or recycled, even being utilised by some of the Construction Community Fund projects. Green spaces such as Brunswick Park and University Green are key milestones in the University’s Living Campus Plan, providing a healthy environment for people and nature.

“As Manchester’s urban landscape changes and adapts to 21st-century needs, demands and a changing climate, our campus is at the forefront of sustainable construction,” says Dr Emma Gardner, Head of Environmental Sustainability.

“However, there is still much work to be done. We are building on successes and lessons learnt to progress our commitment to zero carbon and to share learning that supports a socially responsible, environmentally aware campus.”

Find out more about The Works, the University Construction Community Fund and sustainable construction

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