It’s not easy being a project manager, even when the project you’re managing is only the £30,000 refurbishment of your own house

When we spoke to three construction managers building their own weekend projects, George Martin, Richard Smith and Tony Veal revealed familiar tales of woe: delays in the programme, lack of hard data on products, underperforming contractors. Watching Grand Designs and Property Ladder might give us a secret, shameful sense of superiority over the amateurs. But the truth is, even the construction professionals struggle.

Which made it all the more encouraging to meet the future project managers studying for the Construction and Built Environment diploma at Thamesview College in Gravesend, Kent. Here were 17-year-olds who knew all about method statements, site logistics and CSCS cards, and were obviously enjoying the vocational curriculum. Able to see the direct route from classroom learning to construction careers, they are motivated and enthusiastic.

Of course, if Thamesview’s Connor, Danny and James end up project managing a site, they’ll encounter just as many problems as the older trio. But the chances are that their highly practical education – from an early age and alongside classmates who end up in different specialisms – will give them a valuable head start.

But the younger generation can only take full advantage of the diploma’s learning opportunities if the older generation gives them access to the real-life sites and projects. The fact that Thamesview was already reporting difficulties in turning pledges of support into actual site visits and informal tutorials is worrying. Unless more construction companies find the enthusiasm for the diploma to match the students’, the loss will be felt by all of us.