New Sponsor Strengthens Skills Initiative

A well known architectural practice has become the latest company to join a scheme that aims to train the next generation of talent for the construction and built environment industries.

Sadler Brown Architecture is now part of PlanBEE, a powerful partnership of architects, designers, builders, construction companies and engineering specialists who have teamed up with Gateshead College to develop an innovative new way of attracting new professionals into the sector.

Ryder Architecture, Sir Robert McAlpine, Xsite Architecture, 3e, Cundall, Arup, Esh, Desco, FaulknerBrowns, Napper Architects, Surgo, Turner & Townsend, Summers Inman, BIM Academy and Northumbria University are also part of the initiative, which aims to plug industry skills gaps, attract and retain the brightest new talent in the region and create a more flexible workforce capable of working across various construction disciplines.

The idea behind the scheme, the result of a campaign for change led by Ryder Architecture, is to modify the way people are recruited and trained in a construction sector where training and traditional qualifications are no longer fit for purpose. Working with Gateshead College, the group has created a bespoke higher level skills programme based on an apprenticeship model that provides budding professionals with study and off the job training at the college’s construction facility on Team Valley, along with a job working with some of the region’s leading companies.

It has been tailored specifically for and by the north east construction sector, providing students with a starting salary of £10,700 per year, a professional qualification and a guaranteed job opportunity on graduation.

There was huge demand to join the programme, which launched last September. The first cohort of students are making an impression on their employers and are set to forge successful careers in the industry. Applications are now being considered for this year’s programme, which starts in September.

Tony Harmieson, managing director of Sadler Brown Architecture, said: “PlanBEE is a fantastic initiative that’s making a positive difference to the way in which young people are trained and brought into the sector. That’s why we jumped at the chance to get involved.

“It’s a great way of addressing skills shortages in our industry and equipping people to work across several construction related disciplines.”

Mark Thompson, managing partner at Ryder, added: “PlanBEE allows students to gain a recognised qualification while acquiring technical skills and transferable attributes such as leadership, problem-solving and teamwork. It’s also a good opportunity to capitalise on digital technology and encourage multi disciplined working with other partners within the industry.”

Gateshead College said PlanBEE had produced a strong calibre of students so far and helped them to get a foot on the construction career ladder.

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “It’s vital that education providers work with businesses to develop a pipeline of work ready talent. The PlanBEE training programme is responsive to the skills needs of industry and delivers tangible solutions to help companies in this vitally important sector.

“This is a real alternative to university for people wanting to work in this sector, an opportunity to earn a salary while they are learning and to get in front of future employers every day. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

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