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Sheffield Hallam University

Pictured are SHU students Helen Wood, Layla Barakat and Shaniqua Johnson

Creating bespoke courses to support up- and re-skilling and meet industry needs

Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), like all Alliance universities, works closely with employers to create flexible learning options to support industry needs. One example is their work with Barratt Developments to offer a bespoke foundation degree that develops the qualities and skills needed to excel in the housebuilding industry.

The construction industry is in the midst of massive change. Off-site manufacturing and the need for energy efficient properties means staff need to be up-skilled. Many in the industry work for subcontractors who do not necessarily have the infrastructure or appetite to invest in training. Housebuilders are seeking an additional 120,000 workers in an industry that needs to find one million new people in a decade. The industry also has an ageing population with many experienced site managers due to retire in the next 5–10 years and the rate of those coming through the Apprentice and Graduate Programmes were not enough to fill the need.

Image: Sheffield Hallam University

SHU worked with Barratt to design and develop a foundation degree in Residential Development & Construction in just nine months, and to ensure the programme was accredited by the Chartered Institute of Builders (CIOB). The course focuses on the principles of housebuilding while developing skills and knowledge through academic study and work-based learning. Teaching modules are tailor-made for Barratt Developments with real projects used as case studies to support the learning experience. Successful candidates achieve a foundation degree after three years, with the option to top-up to a full BSc (Hons) degree over a further 18 months. During the process, candidates are also supported by mentors to help transfer learning into practice.

The course has so far been very successful: 89% of the first cohort have received a distinction or merit after the first year. It is attracting increasing numbers of mature individuals as well as school leavers, particularly ex-forces and returners to the industry. Barratt have also found that retention is very high compared to those not on the programme. The relationship continues to develop with the launch of a Quantity Surveying degree programme in 2016/17. Furthermore, with the development of degree apprenticeships and the Apprenticeship Levy, SHU and Barratt will redevelop the programme and launch a degree apprenticeship in September 2017.

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