North East businesses sign up to help secondary schools throughout the region

Businesses in the North East pledge to support 60 secondary schools throughout the region by helping employability skills

North East business leaders attend the BMS event - pics supplied by Esh UK
North East business leaders attend the BMS event - pics supplied by Esh UK

A partnership which brings the world of education and business together is extending its skills work for young people.

Esh Group has been working alongside 75 business partners which include Barclays, Greggs, PwC and Benfield Motor Group to bring the award-winning Building My Skills (BMS) Programme to 60 secondary schools in the next academic year 2014/15 of which 31 are based in the North East.

The programme began in academic year 2012/13 when Esh Group with the founding business partners; Ryder, Arup and Turner & Townsend developed an employability skills programme for students as part of its added-value community programme.

In the current academic year (2013/14) the Building My Skills partnership extended to involve more like-minded businesses, including suppliers and clients, and worked with 34 schools across Cumbria, Yorkshire and the North of England to more than 6,000 students.

Building My Skills brings high quality realistic and careers information and advice to the students and the programme is provided at no cost to schools, clients or Local Authorities.

The sessions are interactive involving students learning about the world of work and they are given an insight to a wide range of different business sectors.

Each session has a specific employability focus including ‘What’s Next?’, ’Preparing my CV & Covering Letters’, ‘My Online Appearance’, ‘Sector Explosion’ and ‘Preparing for Interview’.

Students taking part complete an employability portfolio. Those who complete it successfully are offered a mock interview. This, in turn, can lead to the most promising students being offered work experience and potentially apprenticeships.

Over 30 North East based businesses attended a launch event for Building My Skills 2014/15 at Durham Emirates ICG.

At the launch, Suzanne Blair an Associate at Ryder Architecture who works in both Newcastle and Tokyo, said: “Ryder has a long track record of supporting communities – and we were delighted to become involved in Building My Skills from the beginning; we felt we were joining ‘construction friends’ and together we would inspire young people.

“At Ryder we’re ’specially interested in helping students from all walks of life to get to know about, understand and become involved in architecture as we believe that, in turn, this enriches the profession as young trainees from different backgrounds bringing new points of view and perspectives.’’

Mark Whitehall, Associate Director at Turner & Townsend project management and construction consultants said: “Through my involvement with many schools over the years it seemed to me that the construction sector had a very low profile when it came to young people considering their future careers.

“We at Turner & Townsend were very keen to change this and to raise awareness and of the sector in general and the wide range of jobs and career opportunities that businesses like ours and others in the sector have to offer.

“We also wanted to help students understand what influences employers during the recruitment process whatever sector or job they are interested in – and some of the hard realities.

“For example as employers we know that faced with 200+ applications our aim is to reduce that number as quickly and efficiently as possible so we are left with a few ‘excellent’ candidates to interview.’’

Kate Marshall a Chartered Structural Engineer at Arup designers, planners and engineers to the construction sector said: “My colleague Andy Johnson has been involved in BMS from the start and together we are very keen to change some of the stereotypes and beliefs that young people have about construction.

“ For example as a woman engineer I know that my job is amazingly varied and creative. Our work takes us from Dubai to Durham – it’s a really international industry.

She added: “Overall at Arup we see our contribution to the Building My Skills’ students as helping give them a really practical ‘leg-up’ from friendly faces who are ‘on their side’ and really want to help them to succeed.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the Building My Skills partnership and its work should contact Darush Dodds at


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