WHILE skills shortages are an issue across all industries at the moment, one of the sectors which is particularly badly affected is construction.
Indeed, there are around 150 construction roles available in the Island, ranging from site-based positions to office-based jobs and everything in between.
Recognising that career decisions are often made at an early age, ROK has invested in raising awareness of the opportunities available and the skills required by becoming the industry adopter for the Design Engineer Construct! course at Les Quennevais and Hautlieu schools.
DEC! is an exciting and innovative course that teaches young people about the built environment. Students learn skills linked to a range of construction roles, such as architecture, civil engineering, structural engineering, project management, facilities management, quantity surveying and land surveying.
While Les Quennevais offers the foundation DEC! Connect programme to its Year 8 classes, both schools now deliver the GCSE-equivalent DEC! level 2 course, and students at Hautlieu also have the opportunity to gain greater knowledge by studying the A-level equivalent level 3 qualification.
A unique programme, DEC! encourages students to take a more hands-on approach to learning, and many of the lessons are led by industry professionals, giving youngsters an unrivalled insight into the world of construction.
For example, since September, Hautlieu students have met 20 different industry experts ranging from engineers, site and project managers, architects, quantity surveyors and even future clients in more than 40 visits while Les Quennevais has had industry professionals in the KS3 and KS4 lessons, presenting to a range of students aged 11 to 16.
As part of the course, students participate in regular site visits and practical lessons to get a real feel for the industry. The DEC! course also promotes strong cross-curricular links with subjects such as maths, science and IT, and educates students about relevant issues such as climate change, encouraging them to be responsible citizens who can think and design sustainably.
Students on the DEC! course at Les Quennevais can even enjoy an immersive learning experience, using virtual-reality headsets which enable them to get a greater sense of scale of the buildings they are working on designing. This innovative technology helps them to identify functions and features they may not previously have considered.
Commenting on the programme, Hautlieu’s DEC! lead teacher Simon Forestiero said: ‘The industry support students have received from Rok and their supply chain of industry professionals, both in person from local practitioners and also remotely from the mainland, has added a new dimension to the students’ learning.
‘These are not flat careers talks but focused and relevant learning interventions, delivered at the perfect time to enhance our young people’s work. They bring the science, technology, engineering, artistic and maths elements to life through real-world experience and application and give one-to-one feedback to students about their work from their professional perspective.
‘It really makes this course like no other I have experienced for these age groups in terms of its industry relevance and the quality and depth of outcomes students are submitting in their portfolios. So much so that Jersey is now cited as an exemplar of how government, industry and education can come together and is being used by the programme’s founders to showcase this worldwide.
‘I’d encourage anyone interested to follow the #DECinJsy hashtag on social media to get an insight into the amazing work going in the Island’s classrooms.’
Rok also works closely with Highlands and has worked with the college’s construction faculty to offer work experience to students enrolled on trades-related courses. This initiative, developed in conjunction with Highlands College’s new director for construction courses and apprenticeships Nick Rudkin, who moved to the Island to take up his role last April, has been very successful.
Commenting on the initiative, Mr Rudkin said: ‘Soon after my arrival in Jersey, I was confronted with skills gaps in the Island and shortages of skilled tradespeople to service the booming construction industry.
‘At the same time, the college was securing placements with local employers for its trades students. The strength of collaboration in the Island quickly became evident when ROK (and other employers) stepped up to offer our full-time students a placement opportunity. Working closely with Louise Minier [business operations manager at Rok], we agreed on a day-release programme through which the students each attended a Rok site for up to 35 hours over a five-week period, working with other tradespeople to experience the real world of work.
‘Not only has this led to the development of a great relationship between the college and ROK but, more importantly, it is helping to create a platform for developing a skilled and local workforce. Many of the participating students have been motivated by the prospect of moving onto an apprenticeship at the end of their current course.
‘Although in its infancy, this partnership will help to provide a supply chain of skilled people to fill the increasing number of jobs in the construction industry. It is also part of the foundation – pardon the pun – for providing sustainable employment and career opportunities for our students.’
And Rok’s attention is not only focused on secondaryschool and adult education, with the company due to add its support to a primary engineering initiative, which is being rolled out across all schools. As part of this programme, the firm has partnered with La Moye School, whose pupils will benefit from visits from one of Rok’s senior engineers throughout the programme.
Earn while you learn
For some people, the thought of going to university and racking up huge tuition bills is not viable or desirable. Construction is one of the industries where you can earn while you learn. Rok is currently supporting ten members of staff who are undertaking, or about to start studying, a variety of qualifications. From BTECs to master’s degrees, there are so many options available.
The advantage of going down this route is that you gain huge amounts of practical knowledge and experience, while also benefiting from financial support with funding for the courses. This is not only perfect for young people but also for those considering a career change.
With the construction industry booming, and skills shortages likely to be a feature for some time, ROK is committed to supporting its staff and investing in their growth and development and these initiatives are just some of the many ways in which the firm is encouraging people to consider a career in construction.
Not only does this approach support Rok’s success but it also contributes to the Island’s economic wellbeing and Islanders’ health and happiness.
For more information about career opportunities at ROK, visit roklimited.je or contact email@example.com.