The British Tunnelling Society Young Members (BTSYM) section recently collaborated with two organisations – TunnelSkills and Construction Youth Trust, respectively – to engage with school students to share experiences from tunnelling industry.

BTSYM Schools and Universities co-chair, Sandeep Singh Nirmal (Senior Tunnel Engineer, Jacobs), with committee members Asil Zaidi (Engineer, London bridge Associates) and Aryan Malekjahanabadi (Assistant Tunnel Engineer, Mott MacDonald), together visited St. Saviour’s & St Olave’s School, in Southwark, south London, on 18 July 2023 to inform a group of students about interesting aspects of the tunnelling industry.

The special workshop was initiated by TunnelSkills, facilitated by the Construction Youth Trust, and led and implemented by the BTSYM team. On the day, the BTSYM team was supported by Construction Youth Trust to interact with 12 of the secondary school students.

The focus of the workshop was to introduce the students to the purpose and types of work in tunnelling industry and the career prospects offered by the underground space and construction industry.

As such, the workshop began with a short introduction about the event and the Construction Youth Trust introduced the BTSYM speakers.

Sandeep followed up with a short presentation on tunnelling and the role tunnelling industry plays to contribute towards society and sustainability.

Asil continued the discussion with role of tunnelling in ongoing cutting edge scientific research at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and energy security, especially nuclear.

After a short presentation, the virtual/augmented reality (V/AR) sets were handed out to the students for an immersive experience to walk through the tunnel shafts and a TBM-bored circular tunnel. The workshop included explaining the construction processes and the health & safety aspects during this virtual walkthrough of the construction site.

The V/AR immersive experience resources, including headsets, were provided by TunnelSkills, and did help to increase the students’ appreciation of tunnelling and activities underground – without leaving the building.

Asil and Aryan handed out some props to students for short activities to give them some familiarity with the TBM ring building processes. Both then shared some guidance on education pathway, internships and job opportunities that are available in the industry for students.

This was BTSYM’s third event this year with school students and each event was a big success.

Sandeep believes that building strong relationships with TunnelSkills and Construction Youth Trust has opened up numerous opportunities for BTSYM to share the knowledge about tunnelling with students and to attract right people to tunnelling industry. The support provided by TunnelSkills and Construction Youth Trust is fantastic and the events would not be possible without the commitment and unparalleled efforts of the two organisations.

BTSYM is working on improving the content and delivery of these workshops along with exploring further partnerships with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) organisations for future outreach events. BTSYM is looking ahead to use this experience as a learning platform and do such workshops as these also with universities in future.


The Construction Youth Trust is a charity aiming to inform and inspire young people about the potential of careers in the construction industry and built environment sector, both of which it believes can help drive social mobility in Britain.

As such, it has focused efforts by establishing hubs in locations of deprivation but long-term infrastructure need and potential. Current hubs are in London and the South-east – in the boroughs of Lewisham and Tower Hamlets, and also in North Kent. Its work is undertaken through long-term relationships with high/senior schools (Years 7-13), organisations and employers.

The Trust was established in 1961 as the Building Industry Trust for Youth and changed its name twice, first in the 1990s to Construction Industry Trust for Youth then in the Naughts to its current name.

Construction Youth Trust:


TunnelSkills is an initiative by the UK tunnelling industry (employers, contractors) and has the ultimate aim of benchmarking safety and competence for all in the underground space environment, achieving this by promoting on-site training and assessment toward accredited qualifications.

It was formed in 2008 following an initiative by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), and is supported by the British Tunnelling Society (BTS) as well as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

One of the key efforts by TunnelSkills is the promotion of Tunnelling Operative apprenticeships (currently being delivered by Qualitrain and J3M Construction Training Ltd), by also supports the Go Construct initiative for those examining a possible career in construction and the built environment. TunnelSkills has an Immersive Learning project focused on virtual and augmented reality systems, which are demonstrated at events and the education sector.