Building a better future for our young people
A report by The Edge Foundation was released last week on the imbalance between current education provision and the needs of the British economy. The Skills Mismatch makes for an interesting read and highlights a number of areas where education trends aren’t coinciding with employment opportunities.
More young people than ever are heading to university, but the volume of students taking up the subjects in high economic demand is disproportionately low. Youth unemployment figures remain high and a worrying number of teenagers are leaving school without the skills required by employers.
Clearly this is an issue that needs to be addressed and one solution is to train our young people in the sectors where employment opportunities are growing.
Construction is one such industry. The sector already employs around 10 per cent of the UK workforce and an estimated 182,000 further construction jobs will be created over the next four years. As well as housebuilding, where around 300,000 new homes need to be built each year to meet demand, areas such as civil engineering and commercial construction are also seeing growth.
At Bucks UTC we specialise in construction and IT, and our students have the opportunity to leave us at 16 or 18 with GCSEs or A Levels, in addition to a recognised technical qualification. For many students and their parents, however, the idea of specialising at age 14 can be quite daunting. Parents often worry that their child is narrowing his or her options too early and wonder what happens if they don’t end up liking the specialism.
But this far from the truth! Our students still gain the core GCSEs that are required by most colleges, sixth forms and employers, and actually get to explore their areas of interest before having to make a potentially life-changing decision at 16.
Construction isn’t just bricklaying and carpentry. Bucks UTC students explore all aspects of the industry, from HR to stonemasonry, and get the opportunity to find out where their skills lie.
They also benefit from the advantage of gaining technical qualifications early. Our 14 and 15 year olds study a Level 2 course, something most young people only begin after their GCSEs. At 16, they then have the option to move on to Level 3 study, ahead of many of their peers and with a better understanding of the areas of construction they enjoy.
Our economy needs more technically skilled young people and our young people need more opportunities to explore the career opportunities open to them. At Bucks UTC we work with employers on ‘live’ projects, giving students real hands-on experience and offering them an insight into the working world. We also provide them with the support and guidance to choose a career that suits them and help them take the right steps to get there.