Apprentice proves that university isn’t the only route to success

A young apprentice is proving that university isn’t the only route to successful and highly paid careers.

Matthew Hardman, 19, from Gateshead, is currently enrolled on an innovative scheme to mould the next generation of built environment industry talent.

Working with Gateshead College, the PlanBEE (Built Environment Education) 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 academy 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.

Matthew said: “After I completed my A-Levels, I didn’t want to commit to a course at university as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. PlanBEE gives me the opportunity to explore different career paths in real working environment whilst gaining experience and new skills.

“I am half way through my course and currently placed with Ryder Architecture. I already know there are lots of opportunities for me to gain a full time job at one of my placement companies when I finish next year. I have been given so many great opportunities and am excited about my future thanks to the course – it shows that the traditional university route isn’t always the best option for everyone.”

The PlanBEE initiative was launched last year when Gateshead College and Ryder formed a powerful 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.

Rather than follow a traditional training model where students complete their qualifications while working in one company, PlanBEE gives students the chance to work across several companies and therefore gain a more rounded understanding of the built environment industry.

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “PlanBEE is a genuine option for young people who want to gain a real insight into an industry while gaining experience and qualifications. The scheme has been incredibly successful so far and students are presented with opportunities which they otherwise would not have access to.

“This course gives a lot more young people the opportunity to gain a higher level industry qualification whilst also earning a salary and a guaranteed career opportunity on completion of the programme.”

Established by Ryder, 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, Tolent, NBS, Desco, Bowmer & Kirkland and BIM Academy.

Mark Thompson, managing partner at Ryder said, “Thanks to the expertise provided by Gateshead College and the support and passion of the founding sponsors, the first year of the course has proved a success for everyone involved.  It’s been fantastic to see the impact and benefits the programme has had on the students, and we’re delighted to be in the final stages of welcoming new sponsors and recruiting for the 2017 cohort.”

For more information about the programme, or to get involved, visit /planbee/ or contact Helen Whitfield at Ryder on 0191 269 5454.