Promoting Construction Industry to Youth Goes Global with Debut of New Class Of Your Own Online Learning Portal

Class Of Your Own (COYO), a social enterprise dedicated to helping the construction industry engage with schools and educators to develop the skills of young people, has debuted a new online learning portal. “DEC SCHOOL,” kickstarted by the sponsorship of Topcon Positioning Systems — makes COYO’s award-winning “Design Engineer Construct!” learning program available anywhere in the world, enabling children and young people to quickly and easily gain an introduction to the varied professional disciplines of the built environment. 

There’s little denying the serious nature of the labor situation facing today’s construction professionals. According to the 2018 Current Population Survey in the U.S., construction workers aged 55 and older increased from just under 17 percent in 2011 to almost 22 percent in 2018. As the workforce continues to age out, luring new talent to its ranks has become a huge priority. Proving that construction, survey and design are exciting, viable career considerations has always been at the center of COYO’s efforts. The new portal takes that message global, according to the organization’s founder and CEO, Alison Watson, MBE.

“We are excited that the launch of our online ‘DEC School’ will enable students (and schools) to access DEC whenever they want and from wherever they are,” she said. “The workforce situation facing the architecture, engineering, surveying and construction industries is not exclusive to the U.K. or the U.S; it is a global problem and we’ve proven that the solution to it lies in today’s youth.”

Topcon has supported COYO’s efforts for more than a decade and contributing to DEC School demonstrates that ongoing commitment. There is no downside, according to Jamie Williamson, executive vice president with Topcon.

“We recognized early on not just the importance of the workforce issue facing our industry, but also the success Alison and her team were having making the concepts of design and survey accessible and interesting to students in the U.K.,” he said. “The fact that her dream has grown over the years to where it is today: capable of reaching a young, eager-to-learn, global audience — and the fact that we’ve been able to help bring it along — makes us feel very good about what we do.” 

Watson is similarly upbeat about the strides COYO has taken and grateful for the support shown by Topcon since the organization’s inception.

“For years now, an important part of our ‘curriculum’ has involved students meeting design challenges utilizing the strengths gained through aligning their own STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) resources,” she said. “Topcon has been a major sponsor for every one of those challenges. I can’t say enough about the level of support they’ve shown us and continue to show us with this major effort. Taking the DEC School to a global audience has already garnered interest from South Africa, China and Australia, as well as The Emirates in the Middle East — and we’ve literally just begun.”

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