The first students to graduate from PlanBEE scheme, an innovative training programme designed to tackle construction skills shortage, have all secured full-time positions in the industry. They received offers from some of the sector’s leading companies, such as Bowmer & Kirkland, 3E Consulting, Sir Robert McAlpine, Ryder Architecture, Patrick Parsons, Tolent and Brims and will be employed in various roles, including surveying, civil engineering, design, and project management.
Launched in September 2016, PlanBEE is an alliance between Gateshead College, Ryder Architects and a network of architects, designers, contractors and engineering specialists. Together they developed a unique, flexible training 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.
The first group to have ever enrolled onto the programme has just completed it and a second group of students embarked on it last September. The plan is to enrol a new group every year so that construction firms can continually recruit people equipped with the skills they need.
“I always wanted to go into construction but I didn’t want to specialise in any particular discipline. That’s why PlanBEE was so appealing; it allowed me to learn about several different elements of the industry,” said Madeleine Lees from Teeside, who landed her dream job as an assistant structural engineer at full-service consultancy Patrick Parsons.
“While on the programme I completed work placements at 3D Consulting, Ryder and Tolent – a consultancy, an architect and a civil engineering specialist – so I got to work on all sorts of projects. This is really important because in my new role at Patrick Parsons many projects cover more than one discipline.”
Rather than following 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.
“It’s well known that the sector has suffered from serious long-term skills shortages. This makes it even more important that companies have access to a skilled pool of talent that enables them to become more productive and competitive, both now and in the long run,” said Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College.
A report by the Construction Skills Network said an extra 179,000 UK construction jobs will need to be filled from 2017-2021 to meet rapid growth in demand for infrastructure and housebuilding across the country.