Time for a new class of engineers
April 21, 2023
T&G’s Nicole Wood on the importance of supporting the development of Jersey’s next generation of construction industry specialists.
I’m sure there’s an old saying that goes something like, ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ And it sums up a perfectly valid approach to many situations faced in our personal and working lives.
The challenge for Jersey’s construction industry is that waiting for, and hoping that, enough good people come through to fill specialist roles such as structural engineers may not be enough.
A better approach may be ‘front-loading’ the talent development pipeline by encouraging and supporting young people with an interest in construction. It’s one of the drivers behind T&G’s commitment to a school educational programme designed to do just that.
An innovative way to learn
Design … Engineer … Construct!, or DEC for short, is an award-winning educational programme designed to help young people into careers in architecture, engineering and construction.
They can study DEC at school or college, or even remotely using an online learning application, and gain qualifications equivalent to GCSE and A-Level.
Presently, there are several local secondary schools engaged in the programme with over 400 students studying DEC. They’re learning about construction, literally from the ground up: what goes into an architectural design, how to engineer the planned structure and which building steps to take from foundation to completion.
Very importantly, the learning is not just abstract theory – the young people have the support of local industry representatives who can explain real-world challenges and application.
I’m honoured to be chosen as one of those representatives and delighted to have an opportunity to share my passion for engineering with aspiring engineers of the future.
Engaging in the DEC programme
From a young age I was fascinated by the process of design and construction, choosing to study architecture at university before moving on to a career specialising in structural engineering. I can see that the DEC programme is helping awaken and nurture the same passion in many of those involved.
Part of my role with schools is helping the students understand the diverse range of career opportunities that exist within the local construction industry. And how choosing to specialise in certain construction professions can lead to very fulfilling and really rewarding jobs.
It involves working with young people from a range of age groups. I’ve recently started engaging with Year 3 to 6 pupils at Jersey College for Girls Prep, using presentations and 3D imagery to help them start to understand the basics of construction.
At Hautlieu my role has been mentoring Year 12 students studying for an A-Level in the subject and presently making further education choices that may ultimately lead to a career in construction – hopefully back in Jersey.
All round advantages
I can see the benefits of the programme for all these age groups – young people are getting a great opportunity to experiment with and understand where they might choose to work later in life.
For me, the benefit is personal development and enjoyment. T&G encourages its team to become actively involved in this type of initiative, which also helps build towards professional qualifications. The enjoyment comes from feedback received from the students – I love answering their questions and watching them plan, assess and achieve.
The support and commitment of T&G to DEC benefits the company generally as well. We’re an organisation passionately committed to the Island, to the industry and to developing our staff – contributing towards and supporting the programme certainly helps underline this.
Of course, the DEC programme ultimately benefits Jersey enormously as well.
There’s a massive investment in developing our built environment now, and more to come in the future including critical projects such as major housing developments, the new hospital and Elizabeth Harbour redevelopment.
These and so many others will need a large number of skilled construction people. Wouldn’t it be great all round if they were homegrown in Jersey?
Why choose T & G?
Over more than 30 years in business, we have been involved in projects across the Channel Islands, spanning every type of construction, working on large commissions and small, encompassing the requirements of private and public sector clients. Each has been approached with the same determined, creative professionalism that drives everything T&G does.
Choosing to work with T&G in Guernsey or Jersey provides assurance of the same high quality approach. We take pride in understanding and meeting client requirements, in finding solutions to engineering challenges and ensuring satisfaction at the completion of every project or piece of work.