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A North East school has been adopted by a construction firm to help inspire youngsters and tackle a skills shortage in the industry.

Marden High, in Hartington Road, North Shields, is the first school in the region to introduce an industry-supported qualification called Design Engineer Construct (DEC) onto its curriculum.

And it will be receiving support from Turner & Townsend, a global programme management and construction consultancy, which will help teachers and students as they work their way through the accredited curriculum and design a virtual eco-classroom.

The DEC scheme offers students the opportunity to develop a range of skills and knowledge relevant to the built environment and construction industry.

While designing the eco-classroom, youngsters will learn about the roles within a project team, sustainable design, architecture, planning, project management and more.

The firm will also hold face-to-face workshops, provide guidance with specialist technology during the design process, and arrange for visits to the school by industry partners.

Through the partnership, it is hoped students will consider a career in construction and help to address a shortage of talent in the industry.

David Marshall, assistant headteacher at Marden High, said the link with Turner & Townsend was an integral part of their aim to become the leading school in the North East for STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
A new facility is being built at the school where a STEM room will be the focal point.

He added: “We are the first school in the North in which all Year 7 and 8 co-hort study STEM as a standalone subject. We also have progression routes and a partnership with Northumbria University as well as educational links with Accenture.

“We are now thrilled to have been adopted by Turner & Townsend. This partnership will lead to several exciting opportunities for the students at Marden High.

“It marks a significant step in our ambition to inspire and support students in STEM related subjects through business partnerships and university links.

“Employers are finding it difficult to recruit STEM skilled staff. And alongside our need for a skilled workforce, we see it as crucial that all our students, regardless of their future career pathway, have the knowledge and skills they need to be an informed citizen in an increasingly scientific and technological society.”

As part of the new link, staff are to receive construction industry training, Year 10 students will get work experience opportunities, and there could be possible scholarships or apprenticeships for post 16 students.
Paul Connolly, managing director of cost management at Turner & Townsend, said: “Turner & Townsend is committed to investing in opportunities for young people across the country to learn about the built environment and the construction industry.

“There is a serious shortage of young British talent working in the construction industry. To attract the brightest and best to the industry we have to inspire young learners at grassroots level and this practical addition to the curriculum does exactly that.

“The DEC programme provides students with the opportunity to understand more about the industry through project-based learning. We hope to provide a unique learning experience, enabling learners to see the wide variety of skilled roles available in the built environment, and understand how professionals work together on real projects.”

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