A skills gap solution for construction leaders Ryder Architecture

Client: Ryder Architecture & partners

Brief: To develop a brand new training solution to attract young talent to the construction sector and provide employers with recruits with more relevant qualifications and skills.

Solution: A higher skills architectural engineering and management apprenticeship programme.

After three years of searching for a training partner to deliver a solution to the construction industry skills gap, Ryder Architecture’s Mark Thompson’s ideas became reality thanks to Gateshead College. 

Having assembled a consortium of employers willing to work together to help devise a solution, Mark thought the easy part would be finding an education provider to partner with. 

However, after spending three years of intermittent activity with various potential partners, the ‘easy part’ no longer seemed so straightforward. 

“I visited universities and professional institutes around the country looking for someone to partner with us but many I spoke to just didn’t get the bigger picture,” says Mark, managing partner of Ryder.

 “You go to some of these places and they talk in terms of years to create new courses, but you can’t work with that timescale. This is a fast-changing industry and we wanted change to happen now; it needed to happen now.” 

Following a meeting with college principal Judith Doyle and Mark’s consortium partners which included Arup, Brims, Cundall, FaulknerBrowns Architects, Sir Robert McAlpine, Tolent, 3e and Xsite Architecture, the foundations were laid for PlanBEE (Built Environment Education), an innovative, two-year higher level apprenticeship offering a salary, on-the-job training, a fast-track to graduation and professional accreditation, and guaranteed employment at the end for those who satisfactorily complete the programme. 

The first cohort of apprentices started in September 2016, less than seven months from the initial meeting. 

“From that very first meeting there has not been a time when the commitment and ambition from the sponsors or Gateshead College has waned. Working with the college has been a breath of fresh air – rather than talking to people who find reasons why they can’t do things, Judith and her team look at how they can make things happen. They just got it, from that first meeting they were committed and have created a programme which allows us, as a sector, to work in collaboration. That is what is needed and we are seeing great results,” says Mark. 

Click here for a full outline of the PlanBEE programme.