L-R Phillip Hilton-West (B&W), Terry Hanlon (Robertson), Daniel Hancock (NUF), Ben Smith, Steve Logan (Gateshead College), Jack Thain, Cameron Eastlake, Leuan Crawford, Wendy Dawe (Ryder Architecture) and Ish Bamba (NUF).

Newcastle’s Black and White Engineering (B&W) is opening its doors to budding engineers by joining a key initiative to provide career opportunities to young people across the region.

The PlanBEE Kick Off programme is led by Ryder Architecture in partnership with Newcastle United Foundation (NUF), Gateshead College and other businesses across the construction and engineering sector. It provides a six-month paid contract for 16–24-year-olds who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The aim of the placements is to enable young people to gain skills and experience in a specific industry, working in some of the UK’s most innovative and growing businesses. B&W has partnered with Gateshead College to create specific placements for up to seven students.

Alongside their studies at the college, where they spend one day a week in the classroom, they’re engaged with all aspects of the B&W business including mechanical, electrical and building physics design.

Steven Horn, Director, B&W Engineering, said: “We’re well aware of the skills shortage facing many industries and, unfortunately, the MEP design sector isn’t immune.

“This is why we think the Kick Off programme is such a wonderful initiative. Not only are we providing a vital opportunity to young people in our local community who are struggling to enter the job market, we’re also able to demonstrate why engineering design is such an attractive and exciting career.

“If we can provide the opportunities to teach and train young people and invest our time in their development, we can play a key role in creating the next generation of MEP engineers.

“We’ve warmly welcomed the students and each of them have been eager and motivated to learn about our industry and what it entails.

“Working on real projects and being tasked with solving real problems has proved inspirational and their progress has been fantastic, alongside a proactive, can-do attitude.

“The project also strengthens our relationship with Newcastle United Foundation, as we deliver the M&E design on the new NUCASTLE community facility.

“We are delighted during the placements, some students have already received job opportunities and we wish them all the best for the future.”

The students, Jack Thain, Cameron Eastlake, Leuan Crawford and Michael Metcalfe, are all aged between 17 and 20 years old. Following their placements at B&W they’ll move onto other North East businesses in the wider construction sector.

Jack Thain said: “I have really enjoyed my time with B&W and found the staff really supportive. My experience with B&W has definitely improved my skills and confidence.”

B&W has a long-standing partnership with Gateshead College, working closely with the leading provider of vocational education on the original PlanBEE programme.

Chris Toon, Deputy Principal at Gateshead College, said: “Our flagship PlanBEE programme continues to be a great success, providing real opportunities with the graduates securing roles in some of the UK’s biggest construction companies.

“Aimed at young people who would prefer not to go into higher education, the PlanBEE Kick Off programme initiative is supporting more young people to get a foot on the ladder to a job and career in the sector.”

“Our Kick Off students are really enjoying their placements and it’s been great to see the progress they’re making through their on-the-job experiences.

“They’re getting a real insight into a career in the construction industry which is exactly what the programme is designed to do and ultimately they’ll secure employment and develop specialist industry-specific skills.”

B&W has more than doubled its team size in both the North East and their other UK offices in the past year, providing a range of MEP design jobs across the spectrum, from entry-level apprenticeships through to senior management roles.