Unlocking Education

Added: 19/09/16 Author: Mark Tomlin

As you might be aware, SIG is part of a new initiative named Construction United (CU).

One of the key objectives of CU is to improve perceptions of the construction industry and encourage young people to enter the sector, which is particularly difficult when 67% of the public said that they would never consider a career in the construction industry, according to a YouGov poll commissioned by CU earlier this year.

In part, this is believed to be due to the public viewing construction as an uneducated industry, with 41% of respondents saying that it's the least likely sector to require higher or further education. Of course, with a reputation like this it's no surprise that many young people don't aspire to working in construction.

Clearly, this is a significant problem for a sector which is already suffering from a substantial skills gap, making it vital to make changes to the current recruitment procedure.

While the construction industry can do its best to change these views, and increase its appeal, the education sector also needs to do its best to open the doors to a diverse range of young people if we’re going to be close to meeting labour demand in the future.

That's why it's so encouraging to hear about the New Model in Technology and Engineering (NMiTE) University in Hereford. Focusing on practical learning instead of theory, the course does away with lectures and replaces them with project work to prepare students for employment. What's more, the criteria for entry don't include A-Levels in Maths or Science, giving more applicants a chance to study in the field.

This kind of forward-thinking approach is exactly what we need as an industry, bringing fresh blood into the industry, and with it, a wealth of experience and knowledge that younger generations possess, such as a greater familiarity with new technologies and software.

There are still two years to go before admissions open for NMiTE's prospective students, and plenty could change in that time, hopefully in the form of more widespread adoption of this type of thinking from the education sector.

By making further education more attractive, and more accessible, to young people, and by giving them more opportunities to carry out hands-on work, the construction industry will be supplied with a pool of talent that is ready to work from the get-go, in turn helping to achieve the UK's ambitious housebuilding goals.

If we're going to make this a reality then the construction industry and education providers need to work together, keeping each other up to date on their requirements and what will make for the ideal workforce, and I for one look forward to seeing what the future holds.