Diploma gets support

Rolls-Royce and Sembcorp Utilities have joined a network of employers stimulating support for a new engineering diploma designed to give young people ‘real world’ skills.

The Diploma Employer Champions Network (DECN) will be led by Sir Alan Jones of Toyota and currently includes 17 leading employers. DECN members will encourage more organisations to back the diploma by voicing support for the qualification and sending staff into schools and colleges to promote their area of expertise.

Developed by employers, the diploma is aimed at young people aged 14 to 19 and can be taken alongside GCSEs, A-levels or vocational subjects. It combines theoretical study with practical learning in an attempt to give students the skills employers want and prepare them for the reality of work.

‘Businesses are always challenging to improve their performance,’ said Jones. ‘That requires a workforce with the right skills. The diploma provides young people with these skills, giving them a career headstart and adding value to their employers.

‘The qualification is a blend of theoretical and practical learning, with an insight into work, and requiring students to gain the functional skills in maths, English and ICT. Diploma graduates will be self-motivated, with the strong thinking and personal skills needed in employment and higher education.’

The diploma in engineering will be taught from September 2008 in a selection of schools and colleges across England. Although much of the teaching will take place in a classroom environment, a significant part of the learning will also take place in colleges and companies.

The qualification will teach engineering’s contribution to the modern world and how technology affects peoples’ lives, both now and in the future. There are also modules on new ideas, new materials and how they work together, as well as ‘specialised learning’ courses on topics such as robotics and medical engineering.