Northern Counties Builders Federation baffled by poor take-up of financial merits

The federation is considering giving three £1,000 bursaries to interested North East Universities - a welcome boost for students

Jeff Alexander of Surgo Construction
Jeff Alexander of Surgo Construction

Baffled bosses of North East construction companies have reported a poor take-up of their offers of financial awards for schools, colleges and university students.

Members of the Northern Counties Builders Federation have funding available and are striving to channel it towards deserving educational purposes.

But during the past year they have been unable to find as many applicants as they would wish due to poor response from the educational institutions.

Graham Howard, head of RA Howard & Sons family builders of Brotton, Teesside, took the offer to 12 education bodies in the region before he recently stepped down as president of the federation.

Despite the poor take-up, the federation did find some worthy recipients.

Macmillan Academy in Middlesbrough was given £1,000 funding as a result to support academic understanding of construction and engineering.

Through its design and technology department, the academy has been using the money to promote awareness of industrial teamwork, health and safety in the workplace, and environmental health of the planet.

The federation also gave £500 and a trophy to girls at Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newcastle, winners among 14 North East schools in a contest to visualise, plan and build an urban development in miniature.

Support has previously been given to colleges and to university students requiring hard hats and high visibility jackets to pursue their studies.

Jeff Alexander, a director of Surgo Construction in Newcastle, who has succeeded Mr Howard as the federation president, said: “We’re prepared to consider awards on a rolling basis. “However, even institutions that benefited before have not come back to us. Our secretary Douglas Kell also visited colleges and made contacts with education departments – still no response.

“There’s been some suggestion of political correctness at work, that it might be wrong to give an award to one person or group.

But young people when they take up a career will find that competition is a major factor of business life. The money or other encouragement we offer comes without strings or obligations.”

The federation is now considering a member’s suggestion to offer three bursaries of £1,000 each to any interested universities.

“Students whose work performance deserves such recognition would surely welcome a £1,000 windfall when they know one day they will have to settle fees of £27,000,” Mr Alexander said.

Meanwhile federation members have been asked to detail the offer to any personal contacts they have with college and university boards, and parent teachers’ associations.

“As long as we fit in with curriculum's we are entitled to do this,” he added.

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