Redrow Launches First Ever Housebuilding Degree

 The widening skills gap has long been spoken of as an imminent danger to the construction industry. A perfect storm of factors, including an ageing workforce, difficulty for people to acquire formal training and a perceived lack of security surrounding careers in construction, has created a shortage in workers and skills.

As such, the British Construction Industry faces the serious threat of a deficit in its workforce. Targets such as the Government’s pledge to build 300,000 new homes a year by the mid 2020’s are seen as largely unachievable by many experts unless the skills shortage is fully addressed.

A recent survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, for example, found that 63% of surveyors faced problems recruiting in the third quarter of 2017. Similarly, Arcadis, a construction consultancy, estimated that 400,000 recruits were needed annually in the sector in order to meet the demand for housing.

 “One of the reasons for the construction skills shortage is the fact that for too long, the Government and society more generally have held academic education in high esteem while looking down on those who pursue vocational education routes.

The Government must stick to its mission of increasing the quality of vocational training as it’s the only way we’ll improve the image of vocational education, attract more people into the industry and solve the construction skills crisis once and for all,”
Brian Berry CEO of the Federation of Master Builders

First Degree Learning

Developer Redrow has come up with a way of potentially combatting this widening skills gap, however. Redrow has developed the UK’s first housebuilding degree in partnership with Liverpool John Moore’s University and Coleg Cambria (one of the largest colleges in the UK). Initially this qualification will only be available to employees at Redrow but in the future, the developer is hoping to open it up to other house builders as well.

Students will begin studying for the degree in September 2018 and will study housebuilding quality, project management, health and safety and negotiation, as well as facets of law, maths and economics.

“The housebuilding sector has a real opportunity to innovate the way we develop and deliver skills training to ensure colleagues can fulfil their potential and progress in their careers.
Part of that means working in partnership with further education and higher education providers to develop new pathways that enable recruits to develop the aptitude, attitude and strategic nous to deliver communities at scale,”

Karen Jones, Redrow Group HR Director

Interview

We spoke to Clare Hindley, New Entrant Programmes Manager at Redrow who oversaw the development of the degree.

Where did the idea for the degree come from?

‘We’ve long known that the widening skills gap was going to be a major issue for Construction Industry and at Redrow we’re always looking to position ourselves to best meet the challenges ahead.

We already do that through our wide range of internal training programmes and through ensuring we offer as many routes to our roles as possible (from college, straight from school, from other industries etc.) so this seemed like a natural next step.’

How good has the uptake been so far?

‘In the first year the degree is only open to Redrow employees and so far we’ve got 15 applications from all sorts of backgrounds. We’ve also had lots of interest in next year’s programme as well and already have a waiting list for places in 2019.’

What’s the plan for the future?

‘Ideally we would like to open the degree up to everyone else. We’re looking to start building bridges within the industry and as such are keen to promote the sharing of training and information. Hopefully in the long run this will allow us to standardise all training within the sector, so that if a new employee comes to work for Redrow and has already trained on a key piece of equipment at a previous company, Redrow doesn’t have to retrain skills they already have. This can only help in attracting and retaining more people within the construction sector and combating the growing skills gap.’

 

Interested in learning more about the skills gap? Check out our previous articles on this topic:

Defusing the Skills Time Bomb 

The Construction Industry Knowledge Gap: ‘The Industry Is Good at Making the Best Better; It Is Less Good At Improving the Rest’