Construction class action

20 June 2018

The Design Engineer Construct! programme enables construction and associated businesses to really engage in attracting badly needed new young talent to their industry, says Alison Watson MBE of Class of Your Own

UK housebuilding is booming, with last month showing the strongest growth for over two-and-a-half years. Constantly in the news, the demand for new homes has never been greater. The skylines of our towns and cities are crowded with cranes, and improvements to infrastructure are visible nationwide.

So you’d think that jobs in the construction sector would feature in the minds of every young person looking towards a great career opportunity. But sadly, attracting young people into a sector perceived as male dominated, all muddy boots and hard hats, and only for those who are “good with their hands”, still presents a major recruitment challenge.

Young people are not taking a good look at the sector for their dream job, and this should not come as a surprise when a great number cite their top career choice as a ‘You Tubers’, bloggers or vloggers. They are born into the digital age, a generation that has grown up with smartphones and tablets, and new ways of working and communicating.

Sadly, the rise of the digital built environment, and the vast opportunities presented by this technological industrial revolution, appears to have passed them by. From the use of laser scanning and drones, to virtual and augmented reality, building information modelling, to robots and advanced manufacturing technology, construction in its widest sense has never been more exciting.

But the good news is that hundreds of young people across the country are now getting the message, thanks to a dedicated secondary school curriculum that is repositioning the industry as one of great opportunity, merit and aspiration, giving it the respect it deserves.

Previously a topographical surveyor by profession, I established social business Class Of Your Own Ltd (COYO) in May 2009 and, over the past decade, it has fulfi lled a mission to develop innovative, contextualised approaches to teaching and learning through COYO’s accredited Design Engineer Construct! (DEC) learning programme.

Young people, from all backgrounds across the UK, have been able to explore inspiring career pathways in the technical and professional built environment.

COYO also developed its Adopt A School scheme (http:// ts/dec-industry/) to sit alongside the Design Engineer Construct! learning programme, enabling organisations to fund a two-year programme that provides specialist teacher training and offers a unique and sustainable opportunity for industry professionals to engage students directly in the classroom.

Furthermore, DEC is supported and endorsed by globally recognised organisations and is referenced in several UK high level reports, calling for its wider inclusion in schools, including the Farmer Review, the Future of Construction Product Manufacturing report and the Construction 2025 Government Strategy.

A great way for businesses to get involved is the annual COYO competition for UK schools. And this year’s competition ( competitions/mobie-campus-design-challenge/) couldn’t be more appropriate. Teams are challenged to design sustainable, offsite manufactured student accommodation for TV architect George Clarke’s Ministry of Building Innovation and Education initiative at Teesside University. There’s a great prize for the winners, so do tell your local school and offer to lend a hand!

Alison Watson MBE of Class of Your Own