The Applebridge Family has announced a key partnership with Middlesbrough College to help close the construction sector skills gap.

The Applebridge Academy, the educational arm of the North East and Yorkshire construction group has just  announced the graduation of its first cohort of students, with 14 students passing and qualifying in various fields.

Andy Ray, Applebridge Group Operations Director, said: "It had been an aspiration to set up an academy, and I am really proud to say in only two years, it has come far with a dedicated training facility, a training manager, and now the academy's first cohort completing their studies."

The subjects of study encompassed a diverse range, including Business Administration, Information Communication, Digital Marketing, Accounting, Bricklaying, Construction in the Built Environment, Construction Management, and Civil Engineering. An exclusive event was held at Middlesbrough Football Club to mark the achievements of its students.

Applebridge Academy has an impressive 80% completion rate among its inaugural cohort of skilled students and the Middlesbrough firm will offer various groundwork and construction groundworks qualifications. These qualifications will be available to adults seeking to retrain and those embarking on careers in the construction industry.

In its inaugural year, the Academy's partnership with Middlesbrough College anticipates training over 70 students aged 19 plus seeking to reskill and commence their construction careers. All training activities will take place at Applebridge’s dedicated training facility, 'Imperial Park.'

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Greg Chapman, Applebridge Academy Manager, said: "We are committed to providing high-quality training and real-world experiences. Together with Middlesbrough College, we are poised to equip aspiring adults and young talents with essential groundwork qualifications, enabling them to embark on rewarding careers in the construction industry. This collaboration reflects our shared vision and unwavering commitment to shaping the future of skilled professionals."

Among the features of Imperial Park is a street works training area, created to replicate real-world environments, complete with street lighting columns and utility services. The facility also has a dedicated groundwork area for hands-on experience in block paving, flagging, reinstatement, internal and external drainage.

Ray added: “The partnership between Applebridge Academy and Middlesbrough College exemplifies a commitment to delivering excellence in education and workforce development, paving the way for individuals to build successful careers in the construction industry.”

Stuart Miller, board member for Construction Alliance North East, a lobbying organisation which campaigns for improved opportunities in the sector, and director for CECA North East, said: “The partnership between Applebridge Family and Middlesbrough College is exactly the type of intervention that the construction industry needs to address skills shortages in our sector.

“By providing real-world experience, skills and industry relevant (CSCS) certification, the partnership will allow successful students to seamlessly join a thriving industry and take advantage not just of the jobs of today, but the careers of tomorrow. Construction and Civil Engineering can offer opportunities for anyone with its diverse range of roles and unique projects."