In a new film Where it All Begins, which is due to be released on Thursday 27 May, the Construction Innovation Hub (‘the Hub’) and Class Of Your Own (COYO) have joined together to call on the construction industry to support them in attracting the brightest and best upcoming talent. Through capturing the imaginations of younger generations we can convince them that a career within the built environment is as valid and opportunity-rich as a career in any other sector.

Johan is an 18-year-old from Salford, who now works as a degree apprentice Architectural Technologist for AEW Architects while attending college part time. After joining the Level 1 after-school programme from COYO from ages 11 to 14, he chose to pursue ‘Design Engineer Construct!’ (DEC) more actively as a Level 2 student in Year 10 as part of his GCSEs.

Before joining the DEC course, Johan had an interest in maths and geography, but also wanted to do something creative. He was not aware of the options available to bring these facets together in the construction sector until joining the DEC after-school programme, which gave him an insight into the options available to him.

Johan recalls feeling split as to whether he would go for the traditional college and then University route, or take the apprenticeship option offered through DEC. While his teacher, Dan McDonagh was instrumental to getting students into work placements that led to apprenticeships, Johan also credits previous DEC students who spoke to his class for convincing him to take the less traditional path. ‘Really, I was just following their footsteps. Those people who went to their apprenticeships were really eager about going into the job early and getting all of the experience they can.’

For Johan, the draw of the built environment sector is designing something that leaves a mark and has  a positive impact on the world around him. He valued that the DEC programme gave him the flexibility and creative license to design projects he wanted to design, in a piece of industry standard software that he is using in his apprenticeship.

During the course, Johan has chosen a site and designed a building that will benefit the local community, working independently as well as collaboratively to take the project through each successive stage. He has competed to design student accommodation with a group of his fellow students. He has also explored the role of built environment legislation such as the Party Wall Act, which has given him hands-on experience designing to standards and regulations that he is using in industry. Best of all, he has gained practical, hands-on experience in industry through his apprenticeship.

Johan recommends that students who are interested get involved in DEC as early as possible to gain the most benefits of the industry experience it offers. ‘The earlier the better to get students into the construction industry. The earlier they are, the better understanding they can have of how the industry works.’

Next, Johan is considering taking his degree in Architectural Technology at the same time as an apprenticeship that will fund his studies to get the most out of both environments.

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