Building for the future, building for a better Wales

Construction specific qualifications for schools and colleges in Wales

This is just my short blog on what Qualifications Wales are currently developing in partnership with civil engineering employers to support young people into a career in “Construction and the Built Environment”. Very soon learners in Wales will be able to pursue GCSE, A-level and foundation level “construction specific” qualifications. I wish I’d had something like this when I was younger!

Little did I know that when I started my civil engineering career, yes, a long time ago, it would be so diverse, so full of opportunities and so satisfying. And pretty well paid too! But, truth be told, back then my understanding of civil engineering was pretty limited which isn’t surprising given how little information we had at school.

When I look back I think about how different it could have been for me and my school mates if we’d had specific construction qualifications to follow – and not just the usual Maths, Physics, Geography, etc.

So, when I became aware of the work of Qualifications Wales on the qualifications system in “Construction and the Built Environment” I jumped at the chance to get involved and help to shape construction education in Wales.

As Director of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Wales I deal with contracting businesses who are crying out for good people to join their businesses. And it’s not easy to attract people and get them involved. Partly because young people have such a limited awareness of the civil engineering sector and partly because their perceptions of the industry are not great. But once they get involved they quickly get hooked. And don’t be fooled by the image, this industry is well suited to women as well as men.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how essential construction skills are to the nation. As well as keeping our roads and railways running, we’ve kept water and power systems running, we’ve made sure our communications systems are working, we’ve protected people from flooding and, of course, we’ve built the temporary hospitals, at short notice, to help the NHS cope. Have a look at our short film to see the range of things that civil engineers do :

These qualifications are part of some very positive changes to construction education in Wales. They’re adaptable, focused on technology and reflect modern construction techniques. That’s why it was so important that employers and not academics shaped them to make them modern and fit for purpose.

What do I want to see from these qualifications? I want to see work ready school-leavers, hungry to get started and equipped with the modern skills construction employers need.

I was lucky to stumble into a career that I’ve loved. Hopefully, these qualifications will help others to experience what I’ve experienced but, perhaps, in a better informed way!

Ed Evans

Director of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Wales