Derby College has teamed up with colleagues at Gateshead College to launch a research project into the skills shortages and limited engagement in Construction degree courses.

The BRIDGE project has been supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEGCE) Catalyst Fund and has been prompted by a Construction Skills Network report which has highlighted a growing skills shortage in the industry.

The study said that 179,000 UK construction jobs would need to be filled from 2017 to 2021 to meet rapid growth in demand for infrastructure and housebuilding across the country.

To meet this demand, the industry needed to encourage people from all backgrounds, sexes and ethnicities into higher education and a career in the construction industry – particularly the professions such as Quantity Surveying and Civil Engineering.

Research is being undertaken with current and former students and local employers and planned events include a schools open day to highlight the wide range of career opportunities available in the Construction industry.

Derby College Head of Higher Education Robin Webber-Jones explained : “Derby College has an excellent reputation for high quality further and higher education study programmes in Professional Construction.

“We also have long-established links with employers in this industry and are therefore eminently qualified to work alongside our colleagues at Gateshead College to lead on this project.

“Through the BRIDGE project, we will seek to address why construction degree courses are not attracting students from a range of backgrounds.

“Currently, there are low numbers of women, people from disadvantaged backgrounds, ethnic minority groups and people with disabilities represented on these degree courses.

“We need to find out why that is the case and what we and the wider industry can do to address that.

“The objective is to ensure that employers in this area are able to recruit from more fresh talent to meet the upcoming demand for skilled and professional qualified graduates.”