The team behind PlanBEE North East – a unique higher apprenticeship programme in Design, Construction and Management – will host an event on 9th February to address the region’s construction skills shortage.
As the UK celebrates National Apprenticeship Week, the PlanBEE team will bring together employers in the area, hosting an informative session and telling them more about their work. The award-winning programme, was inspired by Ryder Architecture who identified a skills and talent gap in the sector and brought together Gateshead College and key players in the industry to retain the brightest new talent in the region and create a flexible workforce capable of working across various construction disciplines.
Rolling out its first programme in 2016, PlanBEE has since seen 54 young people graduate, with 98% of them progressing to permanent jobs and full honours degrees. 40 businesses now support the initiative, with the National Apprenticeship Week event another chance for local organisations to invest in future talent; Steve Logan of Gateshead College explained: “National Apprenticeship Week is a chance to celebrate future talent and we hope this event will highlight our work and encourage more businesses to support budding apprentices in the North East.
“Key to its success is partnership working and, collaborating with businesses like Ryder and Identity Consult to ensure that young people get the investment and opportunities they need to start their career. Our thanks to them – and of course to the students who impress and inspire us each day.”
Apprentices on the programme study one day a week at Gateshead College and rotate around various employers to gain experience in a wide range of roles including architecture, structural and building services engineering and management and project and cost management.
The programme grew significantly in 2022, with 33 new students starting their PlanBEE journey. Among them is Nathan Armstrong who undertook a four-month training role with Identity Consult in late 2022, completing his tenure at Christmas. Nathan started his PlanBEE apprenticeship in September, working alongside Newcastle-based associate Alistair Henderson as a trainee Quantity Surveyor. Reflecting on his role Nathan said: “This programme has given me the best start in my construction career. I’m learning so much – both academically through Gateshead College, and real-world experience through organisations like Identity Consult.
“Alistair and the team encouraged me to engage with clients and get close to projects as opposed to remaining on the side-lines. That’s what apprenticeships should be about, giving people like me a chance to jump in at the deep end and see the real challenges that come with this sector, so that we can develop our own solutions and ideas for the future.
“I’ve gained incredible experience so far and look forward to the other opportunities ahead as part of PlanBEE.”
In January, Identity Consult took on another new apprentice through PlanBEE; 18-year-old Ryan Taylor will undertake a similar path to Nathan, working alongside Alistair on projects in the North East. Alistair said: “It’s fulfilling working with such driven new professionals; Nathan brought a great energy to our team and we’re seeing the same enthusiasm for Ryan.
“These aspiring professionals need our support and the opportunities we can provide. There continues to be a skills shortage within the industry and the best way to address that is by investing in upcoming talent now, ensuring that there are enough future professionals to help us create more sustainable homes, buildings and communities across the UK. We hope the region’s construction business leaders will join our event and find a role that helps their needs and the needs of young people across the North East.”
PlanBEE is supported by Ryder and Identity Consult alongside other sponsors including Black and White, Bowmer+Kirkland, Morgan Sindall, and Sir Robert McAlpine. The breakfast will offer more businesses a chance to get involved in the initiative and will be held at The Common Room, Neville Hall NE1 1SE from 8.30am on Thursday 9th February.
Anyone wishing to attend can find out more at https://form.jotform.com/220304405626344
Ryan Taylor, 18 from North Walbottle
In September 2022, Ryan Taylor embarked on an apprenticeship through the PlanBEE programme – something that has set him on his way to a career in construction, including gaining real world experience with companies like Identity Consult. Here, the North Walbottle native talks about his journey so far.
Although I’m not 100% certain about the job I want to do in the future, I know I want to work in construction. I initially explored a career in engineering, but when I discovered PlanBEE it opened my eyes to a whole new sector, and I realised I wanted to give it a go.
PlanBEE gives people like me a great start to our careers, with a broad range of opportunities that give us access to the whole industry – not pushing us blinkered into specific areas.
I started my apprenticeship in September last year, as part of which I am required to do four-month tenures at businesses around the region. That started with a post at Red Engineering in Newcastle, before taking on my current role at Identity Consult in January.
The companies are very different and that means I’ve already benefitted from a rounded experience. The best part though is that I’m actually working in the real world. Identity Consult is a brilliant business that’s putting me out on the front line. I’m out there working on sites and meeting clients, as the team here aren’t scared of encouraging me to go out and see their work in action and that’s something I really value.
The site visits have translated into real projects that I can get my teeth into – cost reports, measures, things that really contribute to the work of Identity Consult and its clients.
That means I’ve already started supporting on projects like Newcastle University’s Stephenson Building refurbishment, providing world leading education, research and collaboration facilities.
These projects are putting me in the thick of it and laying the foundations for my career – but keeping my options open as I work out what area I want to focus on long term. My course won’t finish for another 18 months so I know there are still so many opportunities ahead of me, and with the support of PlanBEE, who have been amazing, I can’t wait to continue.
I’m firmly keeping my options open; I’ve just joined a band as a drummer so am making noise in another area too!
Find out more about PlanBEE at https://www.gateshead.ac.uk/planbee/