MidKent College discusses how the move from traditional courses to new study programmes is aiding the construction industry
As the demand for skilled laborers with solid employability skills becomes more prominent, colleges have transitioned from the traditional course to the ‘study programme.’ The question is how does this change in education benefit the construction industry?
With the construction industry accounting for 2.6 million jobs in the UK, it is still expected to expand by 3.3% over the next five years. What’s more, The Guardian predicts that an exit from the single market could mean that the construction industry will have to fill the void of 175,000 EU workers that the UK currently employs.
This implies that construction jobs will be opening up in every part of the UK so the construction industry will be facing the challenge of recruiting nearly 178,700 additional people over the next five years to fulfill the Annual Recruitment Requirement (ARR) of 35,740.
With a rise in demand for professional, technical, wood trades, interior fit out, electrical trades and building services professionals, it has become vital for those involved in construction education to assess firstly how we educate our tradesmen’s and secondly, how we can create higher numbers of skilled tradesmen in the UK.
Jessica BlackBurn, head of UK policy at RICS says: “Key to [building a resilient construction industry] will be growing the domestic skills base. As the industry’s professional body, we are working with government and industry to develop that skills base, building vital initiatives, such as degree apprenticeships, in our sector to drive the talent pipeline forward.”
So what is changing with the new construction programme?
Whilst a traditional course focuses solely on the study of the qualification, study programmes encourage the development of harder skills to teach’ such as interview skills, workplace etiquette, attitude and communication.
In addition, students will be required to study English and maths to a more advanced level, which was not the case on the previous course regime. These skills are key for a large range of careers in construction, from bricklaying to surveying and building services.
The change comes in response to what employers are really seeking. Although an individual may be talented with technical skills, they are not as employable as the individuals who have a well-rounded skillset and an attitude to match.
A typical study programme is made up of the following:
1. Technical and professional skills
The modules covered will start at level 1 and progress up to level 3 in the traditional way. Students will still study the construction techniques that would be expected from a study programme in their chosen field i.e. plumbing or painting and decorating.
2. Employability skills
Students taking a study programme will undergo assessed work experience as well as involvement in community based projects to get real-life application of the knowledge they have gained. They’ll learn interview techniques, workplace etiquette and other aspects of working life.
For addition support, colleges are now assigning a personal development tutor to support students through their time and measure their progress.
3. English and maths skills
With the appropriate literacy and numeracy training, students will increase their competence in tasks such as calculating measurements and quoting projects accurately. These vital skills are required in everyday business processes regardless of the trade.
Students will have to pass all of the above areas to gain their qualification
If you’re looking for an example that outlines what students will be expected to learn, you can read about the difference between a painting and decorating course and study programme here.
How will this benefit the construction industry?
Overall, this is a great approach to improving the employability of our young people. The holistic approach of study programmes encompasses more than just learning the technical skills required and prepares students for life after college. This will ultimately save construction companies time and money.
They’ll become well-rounded individuals, which will improve the employability of college graduates in the UK but what about the quantity? The construction industry still needs to do a lot more to attract young people of all of backgrounds and genders into the industry. Perhaps unsurprisingly, women make up less than 1% of workers on site. The skills gap can be filled if the construction industry does more to attract previously untapped potential. There are so many varied and exciting career opportunities in the construction industry, especially in our current climate, so now is great time to attract talent from all over the UK to join the industry.