North East skills and employment programme wins global praise

An innovative skills programme designed and developed by Ryder and Gateshead College has received international recognition.

PlanBEE (Built Environment Education), which was launched in 2016, won the further and higher education category at the 2022 Inspire Future Generation Awards.

The first programme of its kind, PlanBEE is an industry driven higher apprenticeship scheme designed to help attract and retain talent in the built environment and construction sector and solve the skills shortage the industry is facing.

Supported by a growing consortium of over 40 businesses across the UK, the pioneering programme combines study with working for some of the construction industry’s leading companies including Ryder, Sir Robert McAlpine, Bowmer & Kirkland, Cundall, Gleeds and NBS. Apprentices rotate around these employers and get to experience a wide range of roles and disciplines within the sector including architecture, structural and building services engineering and management and project and cost management.

The programme has been an overwhelming success, delivering over 300 industry placements with 98% of apprentices progressing into permanent jobs. Building on the success of the scheme in the North East, PlanBEE Manchester was launched in 2020 and there are further plans to launch the programme in other areas of the country.

Peter Barker, Partner at Ryder said: “It’s wonderful news to win further recognition of our success through this award. PlanBEE is a great example of the benefit of close collaboration between industry and education to nurture a growing diversity of exceptional talent, leading to exciting careers in our industry.”

David Alexander, Principal at Gateshead College, said: “It’s fantastic to win such a prestigious award and it highlights the positive impact PlanBEE has on the lives of learners and on the future of the industry too.

“PlanBEE enables talented people to enter an innovative, exciting industry and supports employers to find the skills they need both now and in the future. It’s transformed the way the industry sources talent and has created lasting change and real impact for people in the region.

“We’re so proud of our PlanBEE apprentices and graduates as well as the teachers who work closely with all of the PlanBEE employers to make it the success it is.

The Inspire Future Generations Awards, established in September 2021, recognise organisations and initiatives globally that have been working with young people, helping them to engage in activities that promote a better built environment.

For further information on PlanBEE including how to apply for September 2023, visit