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Major firms back building diploma

A host of big-name contractors have pledged to get involved in the Government’s stuttering Construction and Built Environment diploma.

The scheme has been hit by accusations that not enough students have signed up to it - a claim refuted by ConstructionSkills. But this week the industry’s ambassador for the diploma said leading companies were signing up to the scheme.

Carillion operations director Jon Hinson said major players, such as Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke, Wates, Bovis Lend Lease and Kier, had all signed up to help to develop the programme, which is designed to train young people for a career in construction.

Mr Hinson said he would continue to work to get rival contractors, suppliers and professional bodies on board. He added: “Partnerships in the past have probably been a bit lacking. More employment involvement for students can only be a good thing.”

But he admitted that the course was facing difficulties in attracting youngsters, unsure about which career path to choose.

“It is difficult, sometimes, for 14 to 16-year-olds to be making decisions about their careers at such a young age.”

Mr Hinson said the course would focus more on white collar work, in the hope of boosting the number of trained young managers and supervisors across the country.

Last month, a report released by the Chartered Institute of Building said the industry was suffering from a shortage of managers.

Mr Hinson said companies would benefit from working with young people because they would be able to have influence on educators. He said: “One of the really good things, and an opportunity that we have never really had before, is that we will be able to work closer with teachers.”

He added: “It gives us the opportunity to influence the curriculum in teaching areas, such as health and safety and sustainability.”

The new diploma, for 14-19 year-olds, to be piloted from September, has drawn contrasting responses from industry bodies.

Nick Gooderson, ConstructionSkills’ head of standards and qualifications, said that courses in some parts of the country had been oversubscribed. But industry body CECA complained the take-up was around half of that originally estimated.

Figures last week showed there were 3,054 teenagers currently signed up for the course