Educating our way out of the skills gap

Educating our way out of the skills gap

The summer edition of ‘Did You Know’ came just prior to the EU referendum vote. During the referendum many suggested that whether we remained in the EU or not, Britain’s property and construction industry would continue to be under severe pressure due to a serious skills shortage problem. Many argued that the UK had become over-reliant on overseas skills, however whilst that may be the case, the question has to be asked: why can’t the UK produce our own skilled workers? 

But what about those working in architecture which, as we know, is a complex and challenging profession? One of the key factors in closing the skills gap in the industry is for firms to invest in education. calfordseaden is doing just that by supporting Ben Hicks, Lee Walker, Matthew Wardley, Marek Gordon and Nathanael Smetham in furthering their skills.

Ben Hicks BA (Hons), Associate at calfordseaden, has just started his second year at London South Bank University studying a Masters in Architecture and is aiming to become a fully qualified architect, building upon his decade’s worth of experience in the industry. “Whilst I have gained invaluable experience over the past 13-years in the architects’ team at calfordseaden, what I love about studying is the design freedom the university brings along with being on the cusp of the latest trends and ideas the industry has to offer,” comments Ben.

Ben, who leads the Practice’s multi-disciplinary Revit and BIM design group, is hoping mixing study with work will help him fulfil his career ambitions. “The course has already enhanced my presentation skills and belief in my own capabilities,” adds Ben.  “Frequent critiques are held where design tutors, guest lecturers, and my fellow pupils all question your approach and ideas for design projects. This means I have to create my own supportive argument for the scheme. It certainly enhances my skillset.”

This desire to combine work with study has filtered throughout the Practice, with numerous calfordseaden employees now attending London South Bank University. Nathanael Smetham BA (Hons), Architectural Assistant, says his current course empowers him to gain more knowledge about the technical aspects of architecture whilst, at the same time, broadening his design skills.

“This is very important to me,” comments Nathanael. “I enjoy working across a broad range of architecture but I do have a keen interest in 3D modelling techniques in theatre and stage design. The course is fully complementing this interest.” Nathanael has been joined by colleague Marek Gordon BA (Hons) Dip arch RIBA, who is also an Architectural Assistant and studying RIBA Professional Practice Part 3.

Marek commented: “Ben and Nathanael spoke very highly of London South Bank University and the transport connections from the office was a crucial factor. Whilst I have to make sacrifices, this course supports my aim to progress up the career ladder. I’m keen to ensure my creative side is as equally strong as my practical and technical mind.”

But it’s not just the university itself that is providing inspiration to graduates. “The central London location is a brilliant canvas to draw inspiration from,” adds Nathanael, who is just starting his final year studying the RIBA Part 2 Professional Award.

There have been well documented concerns about the lack of skills facing the architectural industry, particularly after the Brexit vote, with fears that projects will dry up and recruitment put on hold. This is why calfordseaden encourages employees of all positions to enhance their skillset through education and training. “The firm provides a very supportive environment and the fact I’m attending the course with two of my colleagues can only benefit all of us,” comments Lee Walker, BA (Hons) Arch Dip Arch ACIAT, who is a Senior Architectural Technologist at calfordseaden.

Lee, whose experience in architectural practice amounts to over 14-years, says the course is already covering many aspects of professional architectural practice. “This means that upon completion a candidate will be eligible to apply to the Architects Registration Board to register as an architect and join the Royal Institute of British Architects as a chartered member,” adds Lee.

This sentiment and ambition is something echoed by Lee’s colleague and Architectural Assistant, Matthew Wardley, who says he expects the course to make significant changes to his career path. Matthew, who is studying RIBA Professional Practice Part 3, says: “Becoming a chartered architect will empower me to influence more decision making within the industry and ensures the Practice has more qualified architects under its roof.”

Clearly, investing in education represents an opportunity for individuals to hone their skills and make them a greater asset to their company and industry, thus resulting in a more skilled workforce. It’s the end of one chapter and the start of another, as Lee Walker testifies: “Having completed my Degree in Architecture part 1 and Diploma in Architecture part 2 in 2005, I have worked in the industry for a long period of time yet I’m unable to refer to myself as an architect. Successfully completing this course will signal the end of my training but also the beginning of my career as an architect.”

For more information, please contact Ben Hicks:

E: bhicks@calfordseaden.com
T: 01689 888 222.