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York students join forces with modular design pioneers Portakabin


Thirty-four students are answering an eco-conscious brief from the UK’s leading off-site construction specialists as part of a Business and the Environment module at the University of York

Portakabin is offering students the opportunity to practice real-life technical challenges in a commercial context.

Working with module leaders, the environment team at Portakabin has designed a consultancy-based project for the students to tackle. This approach offers a valuable opportunity to work on authentic environmental projects and work as consultants to the UK’s leading modular building supplier.

The projects briefs contribute 50% of the total mark for the module and vary across performance metrics, sustainable standards, environmental risk, potential new products, customer research and the circular economy; all designed to encourage students to produce an honest reflection of a real-world business challenge. The team at Portakabin supports the students by hosting factory and site visits as well as group de-briefings and the opportunity to deliver a final presentation to the team at the International Head Office on New Lane in York.

Amanda Stainton, Human Resources Director at Portakabin is pleased the business is able to support learners with genuine practice ahead of the start of their careers, “We hope this outreach work offers students valuable professional experience which they can take forward in the future. Our knowledge as a UK-based manufacturing business operating across seven countries allows us to share a wealth of understanding with them and helps them apply a broad range of employability skills in future endeavours.”

Fiona Dickson, Programme Director for the MSc in Corporate Sustainability and Environmental Management, of which this module forms a part, commented: "We are delighted to continue our partnership with Portakabin.   The popularity of the 'Business and the Environment' module is a testament to the value our students place in the unique experience Portakabin affords for them to advise on challenging sustainability project briefs working as consultancy teams.  

“The report writing, presentation and project management skills they gain experience of from working in a commercial context provides a good foundation for their future careers. Our students have once again risen to these challenges with some creative thinking and practical proposals.  The Environment Department is immensely grateful to Portakabin for this opportunity - especially to Edward Ward, Production Manager, and Sarah Partridge, Environmental Advisor - and all the other staff who kindly volunteer their time and expertise to this partnership as part of Portakabin's corporate social responsibility programme."

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