New Construction Qualifications Available In Essex

Harlow College carpentry

A Radio Station Competition Equips Young People With Skills For Life

An exciting five day project at an Essex school shows that there could be a new way for young people to get into the construction industry.

The construction industry is one that is always growing and changing, and for people just entering the industry, there are so many different ways for them to gain the qualifications they need to succeed. In Essex, that innovation is clear to see, especially in schools. Just recently, some school children in the county were lucky enough to benefit from a competition run by a local radio station and gain some valuable building experience and access to a qualification. This is just another example of how when it comes to learning and innovation within the construction industry, Essex really is leading the way.

The competition

Earlier this year, Absolute Radio teamed up with Wickes and Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) to run a competition that would give young people the opportunity to learn about the construction industry. Naturally, it attracted a huge amount of interest, but an Essex school were the eventual winners. Burnt Mill Academy, which has been rated Outstanding by Ofsted, stood head and shoulders above the other competitors. Priding themselves on the excellent learning experience they provide for their students, Burnt Mill could now look forward to some of their Year 10 and 11 pupils benefiting from some real hands-on learning.

A big project

What then, happened during the project at Burnt Mill Academy? Well, workers from VIY arrived, and forty lucky students had been chosen to spend a week with them. This was far from an easy ride or a soft alternative to normal lessons though. The students were really put through their paces. VIP combines both volunteering and DIY by helping youngsters to gain a trade and the building skills that come with that. So they had plenty to learn, and were going to transform an area of the school grounds under the watchful eye of their experienced instructors. They worked on removing some old planters to make way for a new performance and assembly space, as well as building a new raised planter painted in the colours of the school houses.

A valuable City and Guilds qualification

The students worked really hard on the project, and thanks to the volunteer professional tradespeople instructing them, they were able to gain a City and Guilds qualification in an Introduction to Carpentry. Students were observed and questioned while they worked, so that the assessors could see what they had learnt in five days. Projects like this could signify a new way for young people in Essex to learn a trade. In just a few days, they will have gained a valuable foundation of skills to build upon, which will give them a head start when they leave school and take their studies further.

Could change be on the way?

The great thing about this initiative was that it was a project that took place in a genuine work environment rather than a classroom. This meant that they had to deal with working as a team, thinking on the spot when challenges arose, and working to a genuine deadline. All of that will give them confidence when working with construction safety equipment on sites in the future, or simply as they undertake DIY projects in their spare time.

Let’s hope that this radio competition inspires other schools and educational institutions to think of new ways in which they can help their students to gain vulnerable construction skills. It’s hard to imagine that a genuine change in the way young people study for these qualifications isn’t on the way, judging by the success of this pioneering project.

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