Building dynamic legacy by future-proofing our industry | ISG

Building dynamic legacy by future-proofing our industry

ISG’s education engagement Manager, Karen Vigar, discusses how the business is taking a proactive approach to ensuring the future of the construction workforce via the development of a new A-level equivalent qualification. This game-changing approach stems from our passion and commitment to legacy and making a difference to the people and communities that we serve.

When I first heard about ISG's work to future-proof construction by creating a qualification to attract young people into this great industry, I knew I had to be involved. This concept combines my experience with a belief in the importance of education and I am proud of the part I can play.

Since joining ISG in January I have been responsible for rolling out our Level 3 Applied Diploma in Professional Construction Practice. I saw this as an opportunity to really change the perception of construction at the grass roots and help create a new route into the industry, something I am passionate about since my own five-year apprenticeship from the age of 17.

The PCP is a real differentiator in the industry as ISG is tackling the skills shortage from an early age

This ensures the standards, skills, techniques, technologies and ethos of the profession are embedded into our future workforce and that students and parents alike see construction as a viable and successful future career path.

Having recognised a distinct knowledge gap for students at Level 3 in understanding contemporary construction practice, ISG partnered with the Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) to develop the applied diploma in PCP, worth up to 56 fully transferable UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) points; the equivalent of an A-level.

The course content enables students to be work ready; with a strong understanding of the end-to-end process of construction from design, planning and funding a scheme, through to collaborative techniques and sustainable ways of working in the community, introducing new technologies to ensure that the construction process can be leaner and more efficient at all levels.

The course recently received an innovation award from the Southern Construction Framework, recognising the impact it is already making in the industry, a proud moment for all involved.

Tackling the skills gap

The skills shortage within the built environment sector has been an ever-present challenge for many years, and to tackle this we need to change the perception of the industry, to be vibrant, tech-led and forward-thinking.

We believe that the PCP will attract the brightest and most-talented learners to consider aspirational careers in the world of property development, architecture, engineering, surveying and construction. The course enables students to progress into higher-level study and is the perfect grounding for a higher apprenticeship.

The industry needs innovative and creative skills, along with diversity and fresh thinking, to reflect the clients we work with and the communities we work in, helping people and places to thrive.

To date, six colleges have signed up to ISG's Learning Alliance, which is working towards offering the course in 2020:

  • Barking and Dagenham College, London
  • Bedford College
  • Richmond upon Thames College, London
  • Neath Port Talbot Group of Colleges, South Wales
  • Leeds School of Building
  • West London College.

Outside the Learning Alliance, four sixth-form school and colleges are also delivering the course, including Heathcote School and Science College in Chingford, Oaks Park High School in Ilford and St Mary's Catholic High School in Manchester. 49 students in their first year of study took their examination for module 2: create the built environment, in June this year, and recently received their results, with some great feedback from the examiner.

It is amazing to see how far the qualification has come since it’s launch and reading the examiner's report was both exciting and thought provoking. The team and I are passionate about continuing to support tutors and learners in bringing the course content to life.

According to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), construction businesses are more likely than professional services to be short of the skilled workers they require, by 10%. Therefore, seeing the qualification come to life makes me feel we are making small steps to reducing this shortage as well as better preparing students for university, internships or apprenticeships as they will already have a knowledge of the construction cycle to build on.

We are actively monitoring the first four schools delivering the course, with a further target of 25% of learners completing the PCP to progress into construction-related employment or further education/training by October 2024. This isn't a short term initiative for ISG, we really are setting our sights on ensuring a skilled pipeline to ensure the continued development of the workforce.

By introducing the qualification to our public sector framework partners, we are able to provide additional support to the Learning Alliance as two of our current partners also have ongoing projects with ISG procured through the Pagabo Major Works Framework. The schemes at Richmond upon Thames and Barking and Dagenham Colleges are progressing well, and are proving to be an excellent source of information to support the course materials and live insight.

What's next?

By 2020, there will be approximately 5,000 pupils taking the Level 1 / 2 Constructing the Built Environment course in England and Wales. This course, equivalent to a GCSE, and another ISG/ WJEC partnership, is aimed at grass roots level, engaging learners at an earlier age.

We are also looking at the options for rolling out the Level 3 modules internally to our higher apprentice candidates, to support their learning and to gather valuable feedback which will help us to continuously improve and update the learning materials and case studies.

The PCP has been embraced across the business with over 30 members of our team from across the UK taking on additional roles as learning facilitators, and providing an invaluable level of support on course development, learning outcomes, and an industry viewpoint and insight.

We have ambitious targets for the qualification and to achieve this, it needs to develop from an ISG-led initiative to an industry-wide qualification with fellow contractors supporting the delivery.

This is a ground-breaking initiative. It's not every day a construction services company develops a new qualification, but we are passionate about tackling the skills shortage head on, and are delighted to see the course now getting the traction that we believe it deserves.

Find out more

Find out more about the different ways that we are building dynamic legacy across our public sector frameworks by joining us at the Construction Frameworks Conference at Kensington Town Hall on 2 October. We are chairing the discussion around Best Practice in Frameworks and you can also meet our team on stand 12 to discuss the Level 3, our approach to legacy and lots more.

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