From education to employment

Construction skills scheme wins national award

Judges (far left and far right), with (from second left): Karen Beaty-Pownall, architectural director at Ryder, Mark Carter of Ryder, Helen Whitfield of Ryder and Nadine Hudspeth of Gateshead College.

An innovative training programme designed to tackle construction skills shortages has been recognised on the national stage.

PlanBEE (Built Environment Education), a unique consortium consisting of Ryder Architecture, Gateshead College and other key companies from the built environment industries, has won Collaboration of the Year at the annual AJ100 Awards 2018.

Run by Architects Journal, the awards recognise and reward the most successful and innovative construction projects and practices in the UK. The winners were announced at a prestigious ceremony at the Tower of London attended by more than 700 architects and industry leaders.

It’s the latest accolade for PlanBEE, which was launched by Ryder in 2016 in response to the industry’s need to find new ways of tackling crippling long-term skills shortages.

Judges praised the initiative for creating career opportunities for budding professionals and fostering more collaboration between industry and education.      

They said: “PlanBEE demonstrates collaboration on so many levels. It bridges between inside and outside the industry – filling an education gap, improving access to the profession and enthusing young people to become pan-industry collaborators themselves.

“Ryder, through its philanthropy in the North East, has created a proactive model for institution collaboration that could be rolled out in other regions around the country. Its impact could be so much bigger than this one project.”

Together with Gateshead College, and the 18 leading companies involved in PlanBEE developed a higher-level skills programme designed to attract and retain the brightest new talent in the region, plug skills gaps, and create a more flexible workforce capable of working across various disciplines in the construction and built environment sectors.

Rather than follow a traditional training model where students complete their qualifications while working in one company, PlanBEE gives trainees the chance to work across several companies and therefore gain a more rounded understanding of the built environment industry. Tailored specifically for and by the North East construction sector, the initiative provides students with a starting salary of £11,383 per year, a professional qualification, a guaranteed job opportunity on graduation and the chance to study for a degree.

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “To win the AJ100 award is a fantastic achievement which recognises PlanBEE as a revolutionary scheme that changes the way training is delivered in this vital sector. This clearly demonstrates how we, as a further education college, operate. We listen to industry and work with employers to shape the training they need ensuring employers can recruit professionals who have the right mix of skills, attitudes and competencies to carry out the job.”

Mark Thompson, managing partner at Ryder Architecture, said: “For too long, training programmes have been unfit for purpose and this has contributed to the skills shortages that the industry is now battling to overcome. PlanBEE is truly valued for its collaborative approach, which is giving students a better chance of getting a job and companies the opportunity to hire people with a better all-round understanding of the built environment industries.”

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