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First ever Foundation Degree in Builders Merchanting from Jewson and Birmingham City University

Jewson, the UK’s leading builders’ merchant, in partnership with Birmingham City University, has launched the first ever Foundation Degree in Builders’ Merchanting. The degree, which has been in development for almost two years, was launched at the House of Commons on Tuesday 13 October and attended by Ian Lucas MP, Minister for Business and Regulatory Reform. Further cementing its relationship with Birmingham City University, Jewson has also launched a Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership and Strategy to run in tandem with the new Foundation Degree.

Ian Lucas, Business Minister with responsibility for construction said: "The launch of a skills based Foundation degree by Jewson is an example of how successful a partnership between industry and universities can be. I welcome this move by Jewson to invest in the skills of its workforce, particularly at a time when budgets are tight. This new Foundation degree will give those Jewson employees the higher level skills they need to not only get on themselves, and benefit from higher education, but also reap benefits for the company."

Peter Hindle MBE, Managing Director of Jewson and Chief Executive of Saint-Gobain Building Distribution UK & Ireland, explains: "The Jewson Foundation Degree is an industry first and something that everyone throughout the business is extremely proud of. We recognise that investing in our people, particularly in today’s challenging economic climate, is essential if we are to maintain our position as the UK’s leading builders’ merchant and ensure that Jewson emerges from the recession ahead of its competitors."

He added, "The Jewson Foundation Degree will also reinforce the crucial role of the builders’ merchant in helping the construction sector deliver a more sustainable built environment. It will further professionalise our involvement with the relevant supply-chains and ensure that our students are well-equipped to play a leading role in the future of the construction industry."

The partnership with Birmingham City University, one of the largest business schools in the UK and, according to the Times Higher Education Supplement the ‘most in demand’ university in 2009, is the first of its kind for the construction sector and will deliver an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to education. The partnership was forged with the assistance of Foundation Degree Forward, a national body that supports the development and validation of high quality foundation degrees.

Professor Derek Longhurst, Chief Executive of fdf (Foundation Degree Forward) comments: "In the context of the recession, it is vitally important for large employers like Jewson to demonstrate what can be done through positive developments such as this foundation degree that will benefit both the business and employees. The use of fdf’s EBTA (Employer-Based Training Accreditation) service has generated a strong and lasting partnership between an employer providing high quality training opportunities and a University supporting development through accreditation."

The Jewson Foundation Degree is aimed at new and existing Branch Managers and Assistant Branch Managers, who have completed Jewson’s in-house Potential Branch Manager programme, and will be delivered through face-to-face modules, e-learning and telephone conference calls. The inaugural intake of 25 students from Jewson and its sister business Graham, a leading plumbers’ merchant, are enrolled to start the Foundation Degree from October 2009. The 14 month course will be supported by Birmingham City University lecturers and the Jewson training department, culminating in a major project presentation where students will be required to demonstrate creative thinking that has led to a bottom-line impact on the Jewson business. The learning modules include management and leadership, law for merchants, customer service and marketing, and personal professional development.

David Tidmarsh, Vice Chancellor of Birmingham City University, comments: "We are very pleased to be working with Jewson to deliver this unique qualification. This collaboration highlights the University’s focus on high quality teaching and providing courses that have professional relevance that make our graduates highly employable. The University is proud of its many industry partnerships and our association with Jewson is a welcome addition to the list of prestigious companies that we work with."

The Post Graduate Diploma in Leadership and Strategy begins in January 2010 and will welcome 18 students, each of which will be expected to commit to five hours of self directed learning each week. Students will be experienced Branch Managers, who have managed different branches throughout their career, and who are looking to take the next step to become Area Manager. The objective of the Jewson Post Graduate Diploma is to prepare delegates for senior management roles with broader responsibilities. Modules covered include organisational processes & lean management, leadership and change management, strategy & risk management, culminating with an intensive work based project. The Diploma will replace Jewson’s in-house senior management programme and provide nationally recognised qualifications for graduates following a 12 month course.

Both courses will provide significant benefits to Jewson by providing its Branch Managers with a greater understanding of the wider business context, the chance to develop a strong network of people throughout the organisation and improved project management and overall business performance. Both the Degree and the Post Graduate Diploma build on Jewson’s on-going commitment to training and development within the business. In 2008 alone, Jewson invested £4.1m which delivered 158,594 hours of training to employees at all levels of the business.

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