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Staff at one of the country's biggest housing developers have become the industry's first ever students to enrol onto a bespoke foundation degree programme at Sheffield Hallam University.

Barratt Developments have provided funding for 100 employees to study for a foundation degree in residential development and construction. The tailor-made programme, designed in partnership with the Barratt Group, will equip staff with the skills and expertise to help strengthen the firm in the future.

The first cohort of 40 students attended an induction day this week where they met with University staff and their designated mentors together with Sheffield Hallam's Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor John Leach and Barratt Chief Executive, Mark Clare.

The students will return to the University in January where they will begin the three-year, part-time course that will see them combine practical and classroom based learning.

On completion of the foundation programme, they will have the opportunity to study an 18-month top-up course after which they will be awarded a BSc Honours degree.

Professor Paul Watson, director of partnership development in Sheffield Hallam's natural and built environment department, said:  "In partnership we've worked really hard to create this unique programme, designed specifically for Barratt to help up-skill its workforce and enable it to compete with the increasing demands of the industry.

"We have listened to the firm's aims and aspirations to create a programme that will allow the students to have an input into the future of Barratt and help it to strengthen and grow."

Barratt students with Professor John Leach and Barratt Chief Executive, Mark Clare

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Mark Clare, Barratt Developments Group Chief Executive added: “This degree is a first for us and for the industry. Barratt site managers are a vital part of our workforce in underpinning the quality and sustainability of the homes we build. They face new challenges in terms of the increasingly technical build processes, so we’re investing in our people today for future growth. Our new Trainee Assistant Site Managers are already proving to be great assets to our divisions.”

Bethan Powell, currently a Trainee Assistant Site Manager for Barratt Homes, said: “This role has given me the chance to be involved in many different aspects of the company and I’m really enjoying getting stuck in to the construction side of things. It’s a great feeling to be involved in the building processes of such a big company, and I’m hoping to work my way up through the ranks, as a result of the foundation degree.”

For press information contact: Sarah Duce on 0114 225 4025 or email