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.

At age 13 Matt Bateson from Swinton, Manchester had a tough choice to make between following his older brother Dan into the Design, Engineer Construct! (DEC) programme to gain hands-on knowledge and experience in the construction industry, or forging a different path in an ICT focused programme. Ultimately, the unique learning opportunities presented by DEC persuaded him, as they had done for his parents in their initial hesitation when Dan had embarked on the course.

Now 18, Matt has distinguished himself in an advanced apprenticeship in Civil Engineering with Mott MacDonald, while looking at transport networks, light rail, trams and infrastructure projects. He earned his apprenticeship at the age of 16, a difficult feat that speaks to his motivation and skill. COYO’s Chief Executive Alison Watson reports that the engineering consultancy is now seeking ‘more Matts’ to join as apprentices from the DEC programme.

After recreating real world buildings in Minecraft in his youth, Matt has enjoyed learning to use ‘Revit’ modelling software through DEC. He has even found himself able to teach his industry colleagues how to use the software as it has been rolled out as standard. He has also enjoyed the creative aspects of the course that he was allowed to express through his own design project, collaborating with others, as well as exploring sustainable building through a real-world case study.

The whole family said that COYO changed their understanding of the opportunities in the construction industry and gives students a head start on their careers. For Matt and Dan’s parents, the proof of DEC has been in the outcomes for both of their sons. Compared to peers who take the traditional college-to-University degree track, Matt has a portfolio of work and a wealth of technical and soft skills that gives him a huge advantage. It felt strange at first that some of DEC’s best students were ‘leaving school’ at 16 to work in industry, but their trajectory has put them years ahead of peers.

Matt noted, “If I hadn’t taken DEC, I’d probably still be at college trying to decide what I wanted to do with myself.” While he is still not sure exactly what he wants to specialise in for his career, the skills he has learned are transferable to plenty of roles. He and his parents see his current career path as far-reaching, and he has the self-confidence and skills to take it in any direction.

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