From education to employment

Why workplace degree programmes could be the answer for students worried about career prospects

Karen Jones, HR Director at Redrow

A study from Save The Student found that 96% of all students surveyed have experienced issues at university since Covid-19 struck the UK. These range from mental and physical health problems, difficulty securing a part-time job to fund the experience, right through to not being able to study as effectively without as much face-to-face contact with lecturers. 

Coronavirus has inevitably impacted the economy across the UK and many students, particularly those in their final year, are also becoming concerned about their future job prospects. In fact, 70% of all students surveyed said they were worried about finding a job after graduating.

The level of practical experience and knowledge gained through higher education varies depending on the course, the university, and whether a student has access to local work experience, but often graduates find themselves leaving university without any vital experience of the workplace. Now, perhaps more than ever, there is stiff competition amongst those looking to secure their first job, which is why developing additional skills whilst studying can set graduates apart.

At Redrow, we know how important both theoretical and on-the-job learning is, which is why in 2017 we launched the first housebuilding degree programme of its kind in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Coleg Cambria. Over a three-year period, the programme teaches participants the skills needed to work in a range of specialisms at a housebuilder. It provides a deep dive into skills such as project management, health and safety, business and negotiation and relevant aspects of law, mathematics and economics.

Students split their time between studying and working in one of our divisions across England and Wales which means those taking part can fulfil their ambitions of getting a degree, all while gaining vital, practical experience that will put them in good stead for their future careers. It also means they can live at home, alleviating any worries of being stranded in university halls, all while earning an income too.

Up until now, our fully funded degree has only been offered to current employees with a relevant level three qualification, or a minimum five years in the industry, who would embark on the programme to attain a BSc (Hons) Construction Management in Housebuilding. This year, we invited school leavers with three A-Level pass grades or a BTEC Level 3 to apply, providing them with a first level entry opportunity to join the construction industry.

We were blown away by the volume of high-quality applications we received. The programme attracted more than 800 external applications and we found that many of those who applied were students who had completed their A-Levels or BTEC courses this summer and wanted a higher education route that provided important skills for an exciting career, at the same time as providing an income.

Seventeen successful candidates have since joined our South Midlands, South East, North West, Lancashire, Southern Counties and Yorkshire divisions as undergraduates and will be commencing their degree learning in January 2021 at Coleg Cambria.

Each year there are six block weeks of learning that are taught in partnership between LJMU’s Department of the Built Environment, Coleg Cambria and Redrow business experts, with the rest of the contact time satisfied through practical site visits and tutorials with support from our divisional Managing Directors and their teams. The students are assessed in a variety of ways including presentations, group projects, examinations, coursework and a final year dissertation project. For the rest of their time on the course, they take part in rotational placements in each of our departments from technical through to land. 

Someone who knows first-hand the positive impact on-the-job and theoretical learning can have is one of our assistant engineers, Rhiannon Elliot, who is just months away from completing her three-year degree programme.

Rhiannon joined Redrow just over three years ago having previously been unaware of the opportunities available within the construction industry. When she was at school, she was advised to complete her A-Levels and go to university – she didn’t know what it was that she wanted to do and so decided to study for a degree in Events Management but graduated without a career to move into.  

Since working at Redrow, and enrolling onto our Housebuilding Degree programme, Rhiannon has learned so much about all of the different skills and departments at Redrow and it has been invaluable in helping her progress in her career.

Having previously been unaware of the variety of routes into the workplace, Rhiannon’s experience echoes what we would recommend to future school leavers, which is to explore all options. Attend careers fayres, either physically or virtually, research different apprenticeship and graduate schemes and, most importantly, be open to different industries, particularly if you don’t know much about them.

Programmes like our Housebuilding Degree can prove invaluable for those looking to take the first step in establishing their future career, but make sure to ask any questions you may have to ensure it is the right route for you.

If you’re interested in a career at Redrow, or want to find out more about our undergraduate programmes or current vacancies, click here.

Karen Jones, HR Director at Redrow, explores the benefits of studying for a degree – at work.

Related Articles