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Making construction exciting to young people

Opening doors to the construction industry at an early age is the key to nurturing raw talent and improving quality standards for the sector as a whole. By Graham Morley

It’s vital that we engage people when they’re young and raise the understanding of engineering among students, parents and teachers.

A benefit of working in schools is that it opens people’s eyes to the rewards of a potential career in engineering, and gives students everything they need, at the right time, to make an informed decision about their future. We need to shape their thinking by giving them a full range of options before they make final choices.

School engineering schemes, such as the Engineering Education Scheme championed by The Engineering Development Trust, link teams of Year 12 students and their teacher with local companies to work on real, scientific, engineering and technological problems.

I have no doubt that some students only take part as a rouse to get off lessons, or because a friend says it will be a good laugh, somebody in the upper-sixth says it looks good on the UCAS form or perhaps some because the teacher twisted their arm. But in our experience many take part because of a legitimate interest in engineering - and others we can convert.

A corporate education strategy can secure skills for the future of your company and the industry. It allows the recruitment of graduates with specific engineering and specialist experience’ furthers a company’s knowledge of the education sector and provides support in the community to raise the profile of engineering.

Experiencing how teachers and students use learning space also gives valuable insight and strategic knowledge into how education buildings will look and work in the future – research that has never previously been conducted.

It means we can adapt products and services to fit with our clients and can also lead to new work, with tender documents increasingly requiring evidence of how companies engage with schools and communities. 

To be effective and make engineering a reality for young people, working in schools must be heavily field-based, with some classroom work complemented by workshops within universities in which students’ final prototype solutions are built.

Engineers can set projects centered around solutions to engineering questions which give students the chance to experience the industry first-hand. Through practical exercises in schools, students can come up with low cost, innovative solutions that can even help us in our own business development.

Young people’s views of the industry are often historic, shaped from the past – but that view is dated. It’s our job to make it real and current for them, and show them the huge variety of roles available to them.

Graham Morley is learning and development manager at NG Bailey.

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