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4th December 2007

CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYERS JOIN NETWORK TO CHAMPION DIPLOMA

CB&I and Lovell are both part of a new network tasked with stimulating support for the Construction and Built Environment Diploma and communicating the fact that the qualification is highly valued by a wide spectrum of employers.

The Diploma Employer Champions Network (DECN) will be led by Sir Alan Jones of Toyota. It currently involves 17 leading employers who will encourage even more organisations to back the Diploma, either by voicing their support for the qualification or by getting involved in a practical way; for example, sending staff into schools and colleges to bring learning to life in their area of expertise.

The Diploma, which has been developed by employers for employers, aims to help young people aged 14 to 19 realise their potential and gain knowledge and skills in a ‘real world’ environment. It can be taken alongside GCSEs, A-levels and vocational subjects but it differs from these traditional qualifications as it combines theoretical study with practical learning, aiming to equip students with skills they can apply to the next stage of their development.

The Construction and Built Environment Diploma will be taught from September 2008 to nearly 4,000 young people across England. It has been developed in consultation with industry to ensure it reflects the needs of employers.

Working with it's Diploma partners ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, has worked hard since September 2005 to engage employers in the new qualification, and, as well as CB&I and Lovell, it has gained the support of a large number of firms including Wates, Balfour Beatty, G&J Seddon, Kier Group and Bovis Lend Lease.

The new Diploma will require young people to demonstrate numeracy and literacy, but also ability in a number of important practical issues relevant to the construction and built environment sector such as health and safety, sustainability, work based practical learning, and the impact of the built environment on the Community. The Diploma will teach students about professions such as architecture, civil engineering and building services, the regulatory framework, design processes, and the enterprise and management challenges which construction poses.

Speaking today at the National Education Business Partnership Network (NEBPN) conference in London, Schools Minister, Jim Knight, thanked CB&I and Lovell for their support and urged more employers to get involved in supporting and delivering the Diploma.

He said: “I’m delighted to be at the NEBPN conference today to meet members of the new Diploma Employer Champions Network and hear about the fantastic work that employers are already doing with schools and colleges. Education Business Partnerships across the country currently work with over 200,000 employers who are involved with schools in their area. We urge more employers to come on board; not only to act as advocates for this new qualification, but to ensure that young people are coming out of our education system prepared for employment, with more relevant skills and an understanding of work, which will in turn help improve your business.”

Steve Franklin, Head of Training and Development at CB&I, and Bruce Boughton, Training and Development Manager at Lovell, are among the Employer Champions who attended today’s conference.

Steve Franklin said: "Diplomas are a great addition to the qualifications available to young people. Design of the courses has included industry participation and now we need as many employers as possible to help us in making them work effectively. The practical involvement of employers is central to the success of the Diplomas. Many are already involved in work shadowing, work experience and giving talks. I hope that others will join in. Whether big or small, all employers can do something to get involved. Try talking to your local partnership and see what you can do!"

Bruce Boughton said: “We are excited that the new Diploma provides a flexible and balanced curriculum which for the first time will enable students to gain a real understanding of the construction industry. The emphasis on employer involvement in delivering learning and in quality work experience will ensure that students develop skills which are relevant to what employers like Lovell are looking for. Lovell believes that supporting delivery of the Diploma in schools will build relationships direct with young people, and we anticipate it will provide a pipeline of talent into our apprentice, management trainee and university sponsorship programmes.”

Nick Gooderson, Head of Standards and Qualifications at ConstructionSkills said: “Having the support of a range of employers for the Diplomas is vital to their development and delivery. We've already made real progress over the last couple of years in engaging the construction industry in the development of the C&BE Diploma. The time and energy that Steve and Bruce will now be able to bring to the table as our sector's employer champions on this new network will be important in maintaining that momentum, and I'm very grateful for their continued committed support.”

Sir Alan Jones said: “Businesses are always challenging to improve their performance. That requires a workforce with the right skills. The Diploma provides young people with these skills, giving them a career headstart and adding value to their employers. The qualification is a blend of theoretical and practical learning, with an insight into work, and requiring students to gain the functional skills in maths, English and ICT. Diploma graduates will be self-motivated, with the strong thinking and personal skills needed in employment and Higher Education.

The Diploma has been developed by employers for employers so that young people are better prepared for work. Plans for a total of 17 Diplomas are under way and will be available to students across the country by 2013. Last month, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls announced three new Diplomas in Science, Humanities and Languages to be introduced in 2011.

All construction employers, in any size or type of organisation, are encouraged to support the Diploma at either a local or national level. For more information on how your organisation can get involved, please contact www.businesslink.gov.uk/diplomas.

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