East Durham youngsters constructing careers through new industrial programme

Jan 23, 2020 | Local News

A North East developer is among the first to pilot a new industrial programme, which is helping to construct careers.

Jay Dixon (17) from Murton and Kyle Cummings (17) from Easington have joined Durham Villages Regeneration Company’s (DVRC) developments – Byron Mews at Seaham and Woodland Mews at Peterlee – in preparation for the launch of the government’s new T Level Qualifications in September 2020.

Working with East Durham College, DVRC – a partnership between Durham County Council and leading home builder, Keepmoat Homes – is providing the pair with two full days on site each week, until May 2020.

Whilst on placement, Jay and Kyle are training in joinery and carpentry as well as acquiring transferable employment and life skills, including communication, time management and teamwork.

Kyle said: “The placement has helped me realise what I want to do, I am really enjoying it. It works very differently to college and has given me more of an insight into the trade.”

T Levels are set to revolutionise education in the UK, offering students a more technical and practical alternative to A levels. These two year courses will follow GCSEs and be equivalent to three A Levels. Developed in collaboration with employers and businesses, the content is designed to meet the needs of industry whilst preparing students for work.

Rob Hutchinson, Head of Construction at East Durham College said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our learners and is the result of developing a successful long-term partnership with DVRC. The initiative allows the learners to gain essential industry experience to enhance their carpentry and joinery study programme at college.”

Over the past 12 months DVRC has delivered several presentations to students at East Durham College as well as supporting construction students on work experience at Byron Mews and Woodland Mews.  It’s hoped that by piloting the new T Level qualification, this partnership can support more students like Jay and Kyle to consider a career in construction.

Rob added: “It has been a pleasure working with DVRC; our joint venture in promoting the construction industry to local schools in the area has paid dividends. The facilitating of site visits and placements has given our young learners a real insight into the career opportunities available in the construction industry. The invaluable work experience provided has also directly contributed to the recruitment of potential construction students for East Durham College.”

Byron Mews and Woodland Mews are two of DVRC’s four live developments including The Fell at Chester-le-Street and Coppice Heights at Dipton. Since formation in 2001 the partnership has invested over £150 million, creating 2,000 homes – around 25% of them for shared ownership or affordable rent.  A unique profit-sharing arrangement has also provided funds in support of local authority initiatives and services.

Geoff Scott, Social and Economic Impact Manager with Keepmoat Homes in the North East, said: “This is another example of how we are working with local education institutions and the community to help train and support the future generation of construction workers.  Initiatives like this are providing young people with the opportunity to gain a valuable qualification whilst also acquiring life skills and hands on experience of the reality of work.”

Cllr Kevin Shaw, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for strategic housing and assets, added: “It’s incredibly important that we support our young people and provide them with opportunities to develop their skills. Not only are we helping them improve their employment prospects, we’re ensuring we’re building a skilled workforce for the county’s future. I am also particularly pleased that we are able to support Jay and Kyle through placements that will provide affordable homes in the area in which they live.”