NEWS: Three new sponsors back construction skills scheme

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BIM Academy, Desco and NBS sign up to become sponsors of PlanBEE

Three high-profile national organisations have pledged their support for an innovative scheme designed to attract new talent into the built environment industry.

Digital engineering hub BIM Academy, Sunderland-based engineering consultancy Desco and NBS, which provides technical information, specification and BIM tools to construction industry professionals, have all signed up to become sponsors of PlanBEE.

The scheme was launched last year when Gateshead College and Ryder Architecture formed an alliance with 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 construction disciplines.

The first tranche of students enrolled onto the programme in September 2016 and all have been retained, with a second cohort set to start in the autumn.

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.

Students will now benefit from a wider range of expertise with Desco, NBS and BIM Academy on board.


Newcastle-based BIM Academy, which was established in 2010 through a joint venture between Ryder Architecture and Northumbria University, is looking to take on at least one student from the new cohort who start in September.

Working with Gateshead College, the PlanBEE group has created a bespoke higher level skills programme 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.

Established by Ryder Architecture, the scheme has already attracted some high-profile names, including Brims Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine, Xsite Architecture, Robertson, 3e Consulting, Cundall, Arup, FaulknerBrowns, Sadler Brown Architecture and Tolent.

Helen Whitfield, communications director at Ryder Architecture, added: “PlanBEE allows companies to benefit from a greater convergence of skills traditionally sat within the disciplines of architecture, urban planning, engineering, surveying and landscaping. Employers have been saying for quite a while now that the industry needed a new way of working and PlanBEE moves away from traditional, unfit-for-purpose training models to one which directly benefits industry and students.”

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