Integrating Employment and Education

Ian Cooper
Education Secretary Michael Gove caused a stir this week with the announcement that he intends to give universities a greater role in designing A-levels in the near future, but we in the construction industry would like to see the importance of employers recognised in this debate.

I am a firm believer in bringing the younger generation up through the industry by way of learning ‘on the job’. Academic achievement is not synonymous with employability skills; I believe a good education should provide both.

A-levels were not just designed to prepare teenagers for university. They were also a springboard for apprenticeships for entry into work, a training method I can advocate personally.

I myself joined Faithful+Gould in 1983, went part time to Nottingham Trent University for 5 years, subsequently obtained Chartered Surveyor status and have developed a career with one company from the bottom rung of the ladder through to office Director.

My son is currently on an engineering apprenticeship (entered for Apprentice of the Year), and my daughter has left school after completing her GCSE’s and has also obtained full time employment in a bank on a structured development programme.

It is not news to anyone in the construction industry that the recession has had huge impact on us, especially in the North East; it appears we were hit first, and will come out last. This should not reduce the importance to bring through the next generation up through the industry.

In my opinion, there are several beneficial outcomes for this method:

The student will have  no fees or loans hanging over them for the best part of their lives. They will have gained relevant experience, qualifications, with a strong idea about what they want out of their future employment/career and the potential for a job out of their placement.

We find as employers, we benefit from qualified staff, who have the relevant experience, and as a parent myself, with tuition fees having gone up by £9,000 a year for some universities, there is no worry of financial support for teens through University period.

We find as employers, we benefit from qualified staff, who have the relevant experience, and as a parent myself, with tuition fees having gone up by £9,000 a year for some universities, there is no worry of financial support for teens through University period.

So what can businesses do? Support, or continue to support, apprenticeship programmes. Take on year out students or school leavers who have the potential to convert to full time employment and completion of degree courses on a part time basis. At Faithful+Gould, we strive to work with Local Education Institutions as much as possible by way of taking on school leavers and students having a year out as apprentices, but we also provide them with as much industry insight and support we can – going in to present guest lectures and the like.

This relationship and the careers it has created has been invaluable to us, and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others in our industry.