Meet the new recruits improving diversity in the urban sector

An ethnically diverse group of young people stand in front of a large window with the London skyline in the background. They are all smiling.

The Emerging Talent Programme is now in its third year. Find out why career-starters from ethnic minority backgrounds value the work placement opportunities and peer support.

We welcomed the new recruits to our Emerging Talent Programme, who met each other for the first time this week at their induction day. They have now started their work placements with leading organisations as part of this imitative to improve diversity in the urban sector.

The Emerging Talent Programme – now in its third year – provides work experience opportunities to help people from ethnic minority backgrounds launch their careers in the built environment.

Improving diversity in the urban sector

As part of our commitment to improving diversity in the urban sector, we help career starters develop their skills, experience and professional network. Some of the first cohort who graduated from the programme in October 2023 found it difficult starting in organisations that lacked diversity.

Warith Said, who joined the programme this week, had a similar experience.

“Having had some experience in the built environment sector, you can see that diversity is an issue in the leadership positions,” he says. “You don’t see many people that come from the same background as me or that have actually been affected by regeneration projects. I feel like representation of the people that are from these regeneration areas is key.”

Salimat Bakare is another new recruit. She trained as an architect in Nigeria and has been in the UK for over a year looking for a job.

“I think there are a lot of barriers especially for immigrants like me. When I walked into the room today it felt amazing to see everyone. I could connect with people, and I don’t feel alone anymore.”

The recruits all do two paid work placements over 15 months. We place them in a range of roles including planning officer, regeneration officer and assistant development manager. According to another new recruit, Dayantara Santano, the opportunity to work in different parts of the sector was a big attraction.

“For me, the big opportunity working for both public and private sector organisations is to get the idea of how the industry works,” he says. “I studied real estate at university, and it didn’t occur to me that I would be able to become a planning officer. But that is what I am doing in my first placement at OPDC.”

Cultural intelligence training for line managers

Future of London is now providing cultural intelligence (CQ) training for managers of host organisations to help them respond positively to different cultures and backgrounds.

Interest in CQ training is growing as a way to equip managers with the skills needed to create inclusive workplaces that manage diversity effectively.

Find out more about cultural intelligence as key workplace skill here

“The difference between those who succeed in today’s multicultural, globalised world and those that fail is cultural intelligence,” says CQ expert Marsha Ramroop of Unheard Voice, who delivered the training.

“Developing cultural intelligence is a really important workplace skill because when we have diverse teams, we’re able to effectively work and relate across that difference.”

A Black woman points to her right while presenting to the group with a laptop nearby
Claudette Forbes: “Don’t change who you are”

At the induction day, Future of London board member, Claudette Forbes, shared her own experience of forging a senior career in the sector as a Black woman. Claudette is a former executive director at the London Development Agency. She offered the group some wise advice on resilience needed to work in the sector.

“Hold on to your values and don’t try to change who you are,” she said. “Who you are brings diversity to the organisations you work for and the projects you are involved in. That is so important.

“Working in this sector on development and regeneration projects is hard. Today you have started to build a new network, and you should always hold on to your network. That will help you keep your self-belief and the resilience that your will need when you meet the challenges ahead.”

The built environment sector supports diversity

Thanks to all the host organisations, including Lambeth Council and Linkcity UK, who have just joined the programme. The other host organisations are: Camden Council, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Greater London Authority, L&Q, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC), Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Southwark Council.

A person stands in front of group of people sitting down in front a large window with the London skyline in the background
Oliver Campbell of Linkcity talks to the new recruits

Linkcity kindly hosted the induction day at their Waterloo office and development director Oliver Campbell gave an engaging introduction to the sector, followed by many questions from the group keen to hear tips on career progression.

Thanks also to Azzees Minott of 2-3 Degrees, who led a motivational workshop about developing confidence and bringing energy into every room you enter.

More information

Meet the new recruits to the Emerging Talent Programme.

Recruitment to the fourth round of ETP will start later in 2024. If you are an employer interested in hosting work placements or would like to register interest as a candidate, email