Encouraging skills development across Ayrshire’s construction sector and beyond, leading public sector development partner hub South West Scotland has partnered with South Ayrshire Council, education consultancy Class Of Your Own (COYO) and local secondary schools to support a transformational STEM education programme.
Created by COYO to inspire professional careers in the construction industry, the award-winning “Design Engineer Construct!” (DEC) learning programme is comparable to National 5 and Higher qualifications. DEC brings together education and industry to provide real-world experience for young people and professional development for teaching staff. Marr College and Kyle Academy are both participating in this unique programme and both schools will benefit from the support of professionals showcasing modern methods of construction, digital technologies and net zero approaches to design.
The interactive course was launched on Thursday 12 October, when 30 pupils from the schools enjoyed a guided tour of the all-new Mainholm Housing development in Ayr. 160 affordable and energy-efficient homes are being delivered at the site by hub South West Scotland and Ashleigh (Scotland) Ltd. The pupils spoke to a variety of industry experts on-site who are driving the project, including an architect, site manager, quantity surveyor and building services engineer, to find out more about their roles and gain insight into the diverse range of careers available in the sector.
The course prepares students for university study and the workplace, including degree apprenticeships, by offering a robust blend of academic rigour, practical skills, and industry relevance. Through DEC, students gain a strong foundation in STEM subjects with a focus on digital engineering and Building Information Modelling (BIM), critical for modern industries. The programme cultivates research, analytical, and problem-solving skills, essential for university success, and fosters qualities like teamwork, innovation, and professionalism, aligning closely with workplace demands.
All of the senior pupils who attended are currently undertaking the DEC course and as they progress through the subject, will improve their research, analytical and problem-solving skills, essential for university and apprenticeship success. They will demonstrate teamwork, innovation and professionalism, aligning closely with the demands of the modern construction workplace.
Michael Ross, Chief Executive at hub South West Scotland, said: “The built environment industry is facing a serious skills shortfall across a range of disciplines, so it’s important that we do what we can to support young people in gaining the skills we know they need to succeed and also address this skills shortfall in this vital industry that plays a significant part in the Scottish economy.
“We’re excited to help overcome the barriers by linking education to industry through our sponsorship of the Design Engineer Construct! programme. Working with our partners, we look forward to inspiring new talent into the sector and giving local pupils the opportunity to learn and grow with industry professionals.”
Councillor Stephen Ferry, Education Portfolio Holder for South Ayrshire Council, said: “The Design Engineer Construct! course is an exciting and much-needed step forward in addressing the skills gaps within the construction industry. It’s great to see so many pupils who are enthusiastic about the industry and keen to learn more. This is a fantastic way to give them a taste of the variety of opportunities that the industry has to offer.”
Alison Watson, Founder and Chief Executive of Class Of Your Own said: “The DEC programme is revolutionising education by merging academic learning with practical skills, preparing a new generation of students for extraordinary careers in the built and natural environment. It’s not just a curriculum; it’s a launchpad into a sustainable, technologically advanced future. We’re delighted to support the progressive ambitions of the council, the schools and hub South West for South Ayrshire’s children and young people.”
Robbie, S6 pupil at Kyle Academy, said: “It was a great visit to Mainholm Housing development and speaking to the people behind the project gave me real insight into what is involved in the industry.”
Darcie, S4 pupil at Marr College, said: “Our tour was really interesting and I already feel like I’ve learnt a lot. I had no idea that so many different people work on a construction site. It’s opened my eyes to the many career options that are available.”