A Greenford school has been leading the way in the search for the next generation of construction and engineering professionals.
The Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School is the first in the borough to offer Design Engineer Construct (DEC). It is an accredited learning programme and is equivalent to a GCSE.
The DEC programme also offers Level 3 qualifications for sixth formers with full UCAS points for entry to university or degree apprenticeships in architecture, civil engineer, geospatial surveying and a whole host of other professionals careers.
It has been such a success at Cardinal Wiseman that it is being introduced to other schools in the borough.
Julia Podlinska, a recent graduate of DEC and now a year 12 student, said: “I’m proud to be part of the first group of students who have studied DEC. There is a special feeling amongst our class because there was nothing like this course before and we had to learn collaboratively.”
‘A huge shortfall’
“There is a huge shortfall of young men and woman going into the construction industry and DEC provides a pathway for students to build their knowledge and bolster their prospects of securing full-time work,” said Paul Foote, the school’s curriculum co-ordinator for design and technology.
As you can see in the video above, DEC applies traditional academic subjects to the latest construction industry practices. The result is providing students with real-world practical experience and employable skills.
As a fundamental part of the curriculum programme, students undertake workshops led by industry professionals. Turner Townsend is Cardinal Wiseman’s industry partner – a company that has a strong apprenticeship programme and offers DEC students degree apprenticeships after their A-levels.
“We have been given valuable work experience through Turner and Townsend and work on a number of projects with their staff. And they have given us feedback on our own course work which has been very helpful,” said Shakil Perera, part of the first DEC students at Cardinal Wiseman.
Students have become proficient in a multitude of software programmes including Autodesk Revit, Bentley Lumen RT, Microstation, Content Capture, 2D Design and Sketch Up. Many of these are currently used by professionals in the industry – which ultimately gives the students a head-start if they want to pursue their passion in construction.
“At first, learning the software programmes that the professionals use was hard but we worked together and, over the course, we now have similar knowledge to those in the industry,” Julia said.
Hoping more schools offer DEC
The first group of DEC students completed their qualification at Cardinal Wiseman and received 18 A stars and four As. There are two more groups at the school (in year 9 and 10) who are currently working through the course.
“I have always been interested in math and physics so when DEC was introduced at our school I knew I wanted to give it a go,” Julia said.
“As the first cohort we were all walking in the dark at the beginning of the two-year course,” added Paul. “Now, they can confidently work by themselves and have developed their skills immensely. We’re hoping more schools across Ealing agree to offer DEC as well as industry partners, without their support, students won’t be able to chase their dreams.”
For the graduates, the career opportunities are limitless and are more than carpentry and plumbing. Students will be able to become civil engineers, architects, geospatial surveyors, site and project managers, planners and enter a whole host of other professional careers.
Councillor Jasbir Anand, the council’s cabinet member for business and community services, said: “The success of the inaugural course delivered in the borough brings with it the promise of more for future students and shows them what they can achieve.”
To find out more about Design Engineer Construct, visit designengineerconstruct.com.