New academy backed by UK construction company Kier opens to students

30th October 2020

A new educational programme to develop the next generation of construction talent has opened at The Sheffield College.

The Kier Construction Academy offers a two-year programme to equip young people with the latest vocational and business skills that the company and sector need.

Twenty-eight students have been successful in securing a place and have started their studies at the academy, which is based at the College’s City Campus, on Granville Road, and backed by Kier, a leading provider of construction and infrastructure services.

The students are completing a BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment, equivalent to A Levels.  Course subjects include construction design, technology, project management, surveying, civil and site engineering as well as building regulations and measurement techniques.

Kier will be involved in the curriculum by helping to provide specialist speakers, workplace visits, industry placement, special projects, masterclasses and references.

Anita Straffon, Deputy Chief Executive, The Sheffield College, said: “We are delighted to unveil our first construction employer skills academy, thanks to the backing of leading UK company Kier. The academy will enable our students to build the skills that employers need for a sustainable future, so they become highly employable and go further in their careers.”

Donna Howard, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Kier Regional Building North & Scotland, said: “We are really excited and proud to be part of The Sheffield College’s first construction-related employers skills academy.  This skills academy is a fantastic opportunity to help tackle the industry’s current skills gap. We will help to better prepare students for employment by developing the academy students’ skills, knowledge and experience by providing work placement opportunities, delivering relevant workshops and showcasing the range of careers the built environment has to offer by sharing our own personal career journeys.”

Student Rhianna Noble, aged 17, has just started at the academy. Her ambition is to become a quantity surveyor within the construction industry and Rhianna is interested in an apprenticeship.

Rhianna said: “As a young woman on a course in an industry that has previously been male dominated, I feel really confident and motivated to do my best and to prove that construction is for males and females.”

She added: “I think it is important to break the mould to show that construction is for anyone. Things are going really well. The different opportunities that it can bring will lead me onto bigger and better things.”

Student Kian Blakemore, aged 18, said: “I have always had a huge interest in construction, as all my life I have been surrounded by family members who have been involved within the construction industry in various different job roles such as electricians, plumbers and site managers.

Kian said: “I joined the academy because Kier has a huge reputation within the construction industry, as they have worked on many great developments around the UK. Since joining in September, the course has exceeded all expectations. The blended learning approach has been handled very efficiently. All the mentors are deeply knowledgeable and approachable at all times and their guidance has helped my confidence.”

Kian would like to progress onto an apprenticeship to kickstart his career working within the industry or study at university to extend his knowledge. He explained: “I would like to think that later in my career within construction, a design I have created could be a monument still standing years after I have gone; it’s amazing to think that I could place my mark on the earth.”

Kier is the latest business to sign up to the College’s employer skills academies scheme, covering sectors such as catering, construction, engineering, hospitality, information technology and media make-up.

Students are taught via a blended learning approach with classes on campus as well as online, reflecting the College’s Covid-19 safety measures that are in place.

The academies launched at the start of the last academic year as part of the wider moves to equip students with the qualifications and skills that employers need. Visit or call 0114 2602600.

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