Design Your Future

Location:
Ceredigion
Funding amount:
£17,507

Project description:

Coleg Ceredigion, in collaboration with the Ministry of Building Innovation and Education are working with the construction sector (initially in Ceredigion) in a feasibility study to identify a skills gap, and analysis and develop new methods of working to satisfy the growing demands within the construction sector.

The project aims to understand the existing skills gaps within construction companies working in Ceredigion, formulate a new curriculum for the construction sector by working with Ministry of Building Innovation and Education and Pearsons, stimulate new ways of thinking with the aim to transform house building into a precision-engineered and efficient process and develop work experience and post course employment for students who have completed the new range of qualifications.

The project activities include identifying a skills gap analysis and explore new ways of building homes, employing a consultant to develop a questionnaire in conjunction with the college, working in consultation and partnership with the Foundation to develop Level 3 courses to complement their current suite of HE provision, a construction conference which will be arranged to collate and share sector requirements to inform the industry of what businesses need and how it can be delivered and creating a bilingual final report to ensure that the data is shared accordingly with the document being used to develop a Level 3 MOBIE course.

What will the project achieve?

The project objectives are defined as being to:

  • Gain a good understanding of the skill needs of local construction businesses  
  • Identify how links between the college and businesses can be strengthened, to ensure the development of appropriate courses and skillsets for graduating students  
  • Understand what motivates young people to take up construction as a career option  
  • Understand Welsh Language needs in the workplace  
  • Identify emerging opportunities for the construction sector in Ceredigion  

Who are the project beneficiaries?

Construction businesses, with key stakeholders and students 

What was the result of your project?  

The research demonstrates that while there are successful elements of the apprenticeship  programme delivery, overall it could be substantially improved with a more joined up and coordinated approach between the construction and education sectors.  

The consultation identifies 3 key areas that require development:  

  • Skills shortage 
  • Readiness for work 
  • Relationship Building  

A. Skills shortages 
 
Significant proportions of business that are experiencing skills shortages, say that they are looking for specialist skills to join their company, they are usually looking for experience and an ability to take on work unsupervised alongside these skills. There appears to be a substantial gap between what the industry needs right now and the supply of these skills.  While apprenticeships and specialist courses will not address this need immediately, they will ensure that the supply of these skills is available into the future.  However, there needs to be something that bridges the gap, helping young entrants to the sector develop these specialist skills so that they are able to fill the business needs.  Stakeholders suggest the introduction of specialist modules to the curriculum, enabling the existing workforce to upskill and offering greater choice to new learners.   
 
Businesses, however, also stress the need for solid, basic skills in their new recruits.  Apprentices need to have a basic but sound understanding of construction techniques and tools before entering the workplace. The research also highlights that new entrants to the workplace are lacking basic skills, both personal and sector related, which slows their progress at work.  Many businesses are experiencing poor levels of education in their new, young recruits and stress that numeracy and language skills are essential for the work place and that these need to be improved in order to increase work-readiness.  
 
This is fundamental and ensures that the concept of taking on apprentices works well for businesses; they can be assured that new recruits will have all the basics in place and be able to start simple tasks straight away. 

B. Work Readiness 
 
With the majority of businesses that have taken on apprentices saying that they have not been very well-equipped for the workplace (average score is 5.3 out of 10), there is certainly more that can be done to prepare learners for their placements.  Work readiness ties in closely with skills shortages, and business again highlight a lack of basic skills as the biggest issue with new recruits in terms of being ready for work.   
 
Most notably, businesses suggest that better levels of: 
 

  • Basic education – numeracy, language skills / communication and problem solving Basic construction skills, and 
  • A sound understanding in the use of basic tools would significantly improve the work-readiness of the apprentices they take on.

Businesses also identify that beginning work is quite a culture shock for many young people, particularly in the construction sector where they will be expected to work long hours and in all weathers.  A certain attitude, willingness to learn and reliability are essential attributes and it is felt that the college can and should do more to prepare students for the realities of the construction sector.    
 
For the apprentices to reach their potential and maximise the benefits for both themselves and the businesses, students must gain these skills prior to entering the workplace.  With this foundation in place, they will be better equipped to deal with the other demands of the workplace and successfully complete their training.  

C. Building Relationships 
 
The sector in West Wales is dominated by small construction firms and yet they don’t feel as though they have a relationship with the education sector.  It is assumed by the firms interviewed that larger companies do, but the research highlights that at present the micro businesses have little-to-no engagement with the college.   They are keen to see this change and would welcome opportunities to work with the College.   
 
There is plenty of scope for greater interaction between businesses and the college.  Suggestions for employer-led steering groups to help shape the curriculum with the needs of businesses in mind, open days to encourage greater interaction between the college and businesses and direct communications with businesses are all suggested as ways to increase engagement with the sector.  
 
There is also a recognition that deepening relationships with key stakeholders across West Wales could help to ensure that Coleg Ceredigion’s offering is in line with wider trends and priorities for the sector, keeping it both relevant and front of mind for organisations working in the sector on a daily basis.
 

Further project information:

Name:
Cynnal y Cardi
Telephone number:
01545 572063
Email project contact
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