We speak to Tony Myers, assistant principal for construction, engineering and digital technologies, about the apprenticeship courses you can do at Barking & Dagenham College, what you need to qualify and what housebuilding career prospects your qualifications can bring.
Hi Tony, please tell us about the courses you offer in construction-related subjects.
We offer a range of courses to suit different skills interests, academic levels and ambitions. In ‘biblical trades’ , as craft trades are often called, we offer courses in carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, and painting and decorating, which we deliver from Entry Level to Level 3 and achievement is awarded through City and Guilds. In the last three years we have added dry lining at Level 2 to our construction offer. Dry lining was added in response to local market intelligence which identified a skills shortage and this has provided good routes to employment for our students.
We also teach building services, which covers electrical and plumbing. There is an additional option on completion of Level 3 Electrical to move into data cabling via our strategic partnership with CNet.
In addition we provide higher level courses, these provide progression routes for those who have successfully completed Level 3 on one of the trades mentioned above. Higher level construction courses are delivered in the Construction Design Management (CDM) curriculum. CDM courses range from Level 3 up to Level 6 qualifications, this mixes practical skills with the foundations for a variety of careers, which include quantity surveying, and site management, among others.
What are the qualifications needed to apply?
For entry level courses, we don’t impose any criteria on qualifications to join us. For Level 1, we’d expect a minimum E grade in maths and English. It’s slightly different on the building services courses, where A to C grades in maths and English are needed in addition to a minimum C grade in one of the sciences. For electrical and plumbing students we also offer an opportunity for those slightly missing out on the grades they need, which gives them an extra year to improve their grades enough to qualify for the course.
We also ask all our students to bring with them a passion for their chosen course.
What kind of work experience do students get?
At Level 1, there are site visits to see first-hand what the job involves, masterclasses and industry talks from experienced professionals to cover the practical side as well as inspire the students. We also have ‘job coaches’ who liaise between training staff and candidates and ensure that students get the necessary CSCS card to allow them to work in construction. Job coaches and curriculum staff work in tandem to secure work placements for students at Levels 2 and 3. Students are encouraged to seek their own opportunities with available support provided by the college staff.
What are the career prospects once qualified?
There’s a whole range of career options. All our courses have ‘jump-off points’ at different stages, allowing them to enter employment when they are ready. We ensure that all students are very well briefed about how their choice will affect their career opportunities.
What kind of feedback do you have from former students?
There are many brilliant success stories with former students coming back to the college to share their success stories. Former students return to talk to current students about their achievements and experiences.
What sort of staff team does the college have?
Every curriculum area has its own industry trained teaching staff who fetch a wealth of knowledge to their teaching, this is accompanied by staff who work as dual professionals and are still employed in industry and teach on a part time basis, this ensures knowledge within each curriculum remains current and is employer led, this assists in making our students work ready on completion of their course.
How should prospective candidates apply for one of your courses?
We have moved away from traditional ‘academic year’, the college now works to a 12-month year with courses starting at different times throughout. This is a great advantage to potential students as it offers them a great deal of flexibility around when they can start on a course.
Along with the scope they have in when they enrol, there are a number of methods to finding out about our courses and signing up. We have a number of open events for potential students to come along to for advice, a chance to see our facilities and the opportunity to speak to tutors. The Technical Skills Academy’s next events are on Wednesday 21 February from 4.30pm to 7.00pm and then on Saturday 9 June from 10.00am to 2.00pm.
Applications can be done online, or anyone interested in a course can just walk in to one of our campuses ‘off the street’ and start the process from there. A member of the admissions team can facilitate the initial enquiry before engaging the potential student with the chosen curriculum area for initial advice and guidance and sign up to the appropriate course.