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Gateshead College named finalist in national construction talent awards

A North East college has been recognised for its role in a pioneering initiative designed to boost the construction industry skills base

Gateshead College, which launched PlanBEE (Built Environment Education) last year with Ryder Architecture, has been selected as a finalist in the Apprenticeship Scheme of the Year category of the 2017 Construction Investing in Talent Awards.

Run by trade publication Construction News, the awards reward individuals and teams who work hard to attract and retain the best talent in the industry.

The college will now go head to head with five other organisations in the grand final, which takes place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on November 15.

Competition judges were particularly impressed by the college’s role in PlanBEE, a powerful alliance of architects, designers, contractors and engineering specialists.  Gateshead College and Ryder teamed up with this network of companies to develop a unique, flexible degree-level apprenticeship 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 construction disciplines.

The first group of students enrolled onto the programme in September 2016 and all have been retained. A second cohort started this month.

Rather than follow a traditional training model where students complete their qualifications while working in one company, PlanBEE follows an apprenticeship model and enables trainees to work across several companies so that they gain a more rounded understanding of the built environment industry.

The scheme has also been shortlisted in the Skills Initiative of the Year category in this year’s Building Awards, entered by Ryder Architecture.

Chris Toon, deputy principal of Gateshead College, said: “We are delighted to reach the final of a national competition in recognition of our work on PlanBEE, which is tailored for and led by the specific needs of industry. We work closely with the sector to ensure that the training we offer provides companies with vital skills that enable them to become more productive and competitive, both now and in the long run.”

Helen Whitfield, communications director at Ryder Architecture, said: “This is a pioneering training initiative which gives people the chance to learn new skills across different disciplines. It is a direct response to the industry’s requirement for greater convergence in the skills traditionally sat within the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, engineering, surveying and landscaping.”

A key aim of PlanBEE is to help people from a diverse range of backgrounds forge a long-term career in construction – also one of the principal criteria for the Apprenticeship Scheme of the Year Award.

Tom Fitzpatrick, editor of Construction News, said: “Our shortlisted companies are overcoming Brexit uncertainty by striving to attract and retain the best talent in the UK construction industry.

“Each company is going further than ever before to make construction an inclusive industry and pushing the boundaries on their outreach initiatives, recruitment and as the best places to work.

“Our expert judges from the worlds of construction, retail, government and transport will now have the difficult task of choosing this year’s winners.