The construction sector in the UK is experiencing a surge. According to a ManpowerGroup report, there will be an 11% rise in job opportunities in the UK’s construction sector in the last quarter of 2017—the strongest jobs growth in any UK sector.
However, the report warns of a skills shortage—hiring expectations may not come to fruition.
Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Online MSc in Construction Project Management aims to combat this problem, helping graduates make an immediate impact in the workplace.
The master’s program is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, designed to be a flexible and cutting-edge degree for busy, mid-career professionals or recent grads. The university has long-standing relations with industry, and utilizes its connections to provide students with access to industry experts as course leader, Chris Coffey, explains:
“We make sure that each module has an industry expert involved, who presents through an online video,” he says. “Tutors provide their expertise; students undertake directed study and then they see what industry experts are saying. This makes the modules very current and relevant.
“We have experts in some of the developing areas like Business Information Modelling (BIM) and LEAN, where we have three of the leading experts providing their opinion.”
Indeed, Nottingham Trent University have taken every step to ensure that the online learning experience is as interactive and current as possible. Gone are the days of purely reading texts online.
“It’s not dry learning. You get people who are in practice telling you how it works so you get a live—happening now—experience,” Chris explains. “Some of the assessments are more innovative too, with students producing videos to present their ideas, which they then might want to go on and use in industry.
“There are lots of activities, not just the assessed ones, where students can go into discussion boards and forums and where we can build a real sense of a community online.”
The flexible and tightly structured course on offer at NTU breaks each module into an eight-week block, which gives students a more focused approach than other online courses. Instead of having to juggle several topics at once, this way students focus on one at a time.
This flexibility is something that 2014 NTU grad Aidan Munnelly found especially useful. He climbed Mount Kenya whilst studying part of the degree.
“As a project manager, I was unwilling to remove myself from the practical aspects of construction so my only option was to undertake an online degree,” he says.
“The online program provided me with all the necessary information I required and allowed me to work at my own pace and in a time which is convenient.
“When enrolling onto the course I was unsure if I’d have any interaction with my fellow students, but from day one it was clear that communication channels were not in any way limited. We are in an age where virtual team working in the construction industry is ever more prevalent,” he continues.
“As professionals we must adapt. By using communication technology, I was able to undertake group assignments with classmates as though they were in the same room, when in reality we were from different corners of the globe.”
For Chris, this exposure to a digital working environment is key. The Online MSc in Construction Project Management course modules exposes students to the technology and practices of the future, the use of virtual reality for example in health and safety training is discussed in one module .
“These digital skills are vital,” he says. We have international students from all over the world and they can exchange ideas about how they do things.
“This reflects where construction is now. You may have to build a stadium in Spain, but the architect is in France and the construction company and design team are somewhere else. So how do you work collaboratively with people so far away?
“The online course includes practical industry procedure while providing the education. The idea is that our students go out and change the world. They are the future so we develop them for the future.”