• 03 February 2020
  • News, People,

One of the North East’s biggest construction companies is benefitting from an innovative training programme designed to attract new talent into the industry.

Tolent has boosted its workforce thanks to PlanBEE, a unique higher apprenticeship programme developed by Gateshead College and Ryder Architecture to inspire young people to pursue a career in the built environment sector.

Gateshead-based Tolent, which has regional teams working throughout the UK, has recruited three PlanBEE apprentices to its team following their successful completion of the programme.

Cody Sheriff, Luke Oldfield and Morgan Bridgett are now permanent members of the Tolent team and are working at sites across the region. Cody, 22, is a trainee engineer and Luke, 21 and Morgan 20 are trainee site managers.

Andy McLeod, CEO at Tolent, said: “We're always thinking about the next generation here at Tolent and as our workload continues to grow across the North East and the UK, it’s important that we invest in our people, which this business has done consistently for the last 36 years.

“Working with establishments like Gateshead College, we’re helping young people into careers in construction with a diverse array of opportunities, building a multi-disciplined workforce for our future.

“For those who are just starting out in their careers, it’s fantastic that we have such a wide range of projects to help shape what we hope will be long-term careers with Tolent.”

Rather than follow a traditional training model where students complete their qualifications while working in one company, PlanBEE gives apprentices the chance to work across several companies and therefore gain a more rounded understanding of the built environment industry. This means the former apprentices will benefit now and throughout their careers from their training which has also given them insight into lots of different roles.

Luke Oldfield, from Wallsend, is currently working alongside Cody on the £120m Milburngate mixed-use development in Durham, creating offices, apartments, leisure outlets and a hotel. He is continuing his learning at Northumbria University where he is studying towards a degree in Construction Engineering Management. 

Luke said: “PlanBEE has given me the chance to learn about and try lots of different roles within construction and that’s helped me to land a job with Tolent in my chosen career. It’s given me the best start in the industry as I’ve worked with other professions such as architects and surveyors, I now have a really good working knowledge of their job, what goes into it and what they need from me.”

Steve Logan, Head of Delivery at Gateshead College, said: “PlanBEE is a higher  apprenticeship that’s delivering exactly what it set out to do – to create a talent pool of some of the most talented, ambitious and, most importantly, work-ready young people for the built environment industry.

“It’s fantastic to see three of our former apprentices going on to join Tolent – their success is down to a great deal of hard work and huge commitment to their studies. They’ve got a great grounding from their training and they will be able to use the skills, knowledge and experience in their new roles.”

Tolent was one of the first companies to get involved in PlanBEE and continues to offer placements to apprentices on the programme.

Gateshead College and Ryder Architecture formed a powerful alliance with a network of architects, designers, contractors and engineering specialists to launch the PlanBEE programme in 2016, which was the first of its kind in the sector. It is now being used as an exemplar across the country.

It is a bespoke higher-level skills programme that provides budding professionals with study and off-the-job training 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 young people with a starting salary of £12,409 per year, a professional qualification and a guaranteed job opportunity on graduation.


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