Jan 24, 2018

PlanBEE the new Plan A

By Rebekah Phillips

Cundall is one of the founding companies for Plan Built Environment Education (BEE), along with Ryder, Arup, Faulkner Browns, Brims, Sir Robert McAlpine, Tolent and Xsite, working in collaboration with Gateshead College, to change the silo mentality in the construction industry.

The normal route into the construction industry requires 17-18 year old students to choose their career path whilst knowing very little about the industry they are entering. A limitation to this route is that it lacks collaboration and graduates don’t necessarily gain the diversity of skills needed in an industry which is so integrated.

Therefore, it was felt that a broader entry system was needed into the industry, which displays the wide variety of career opportunities within the sector.

I got involved as a brand ambassador, being interviewed for promotional videos and speaking to the students at open evenings and potential sponsors about the project. I have since been involved primarily in the interview process, as well as attending a few of the sponsor meetings.

Currently, PlanBEE is a two-year unique apprenticeship which offers university capable students the opportunity to experience the wide variety of disciplines within the industry, whilst progressing with academic studies alongside.

Students are mentored and work four days a week at a sponsor company and have one full day in college, at the end of the course they receive a Higher National Diploma. Over the course of two years the students go into six different working placements (each roughly four months long), including architecture, civil/structural engineering, building services engineering, contracting and quantity surveying.

At the end of the two years, the students apply for jobs as apprentices at one of the companies they have worked for, which will enable them to continue working whilst studying part-time in their discipline of choice.

There are 12 students in the first cohort currently midway through their second year and 15 students in their first year. So far it has been very successful with the students proving their worth in the workplace, as well as achieving the required grades to continue studying.

“My experience of PlanBEE this far has been very enjoyable. I have just finished my first work placement at Cundall and I absolutely loved it. This was a surprise to me as prior to this placement, and PlanBEE, I had never thought about civil engineering as a future career path, as I had no understanding of the profession. I can now see it being a possible future career for myself, as I was previously looking to get an apprenticeship in solely quantity surveying, so I am grateful for PlanBEE and Cundall for allowing me to experience it.” William Allen – first year student.

“PlanBEE has really helped me as a young professional, having had four previous placements with a wide variety of companies, it has helped my gain a wider knowledge of the construction industry and what different job roles there are available. PlanBEE and Cundall have helped me decide what career I want to pursue and has given me an insight as to what I would be expected to do daily. Over the past four months I have completed a variety of tasks and exceeded my abilities.” Aaron Soulsby – second year student.

At the end of each placement the students present the work they have been involved in, I attended the second-year presentations recently and was very impressed with how confidently they presented and then answered questions from the panel of sponsors. It was really encouraging to see how much they have grown over the past 18 months.

One of the activities arranged for the students was Constructionarium. In Marsden Quarry, Sunderland, they were given a week to build a miniature version of the Millennium Gallery (Sheffield), each taking on different site roles, and physically building it using concrete and steel with the aid of site plant. This gave them the opportunity to develop their practical skills and expertise on site, as well as allowed the students to bond with one another. (Click here to read the Gateshead College blog and here for the video link )

PlanBEE won the Skills Initiative of the Year Award 2017. It was rewarding to see that the project is getting recognition outside of the North East.

If you know anyone who is considering a career in the construction industry who may be interested in pursuing PlanBEE please find further information here. Applications are now open for September 2018 intake.

Rebekah Phillips

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Inspiring the next generation, Rebekah Phillips, Uncategorized, Volunteering


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