Leading college group Education Partnership North East is backing a campaign to build a successful, sustainable and inclusive construction industry across the region. 

Led by Constructing Excellence in the North East (CENE), alongside Construction Industry Council North East (CIC), Construction Alliance North East (CAN) and Generation for Change (G4C), the cross-industry OneVoice strategy aims to promote the North East as a beacon for best practice in the construction sector. 

Officially launched in 2020, OneVoice focuses on three integrated themes to drive cultural change across the built environment – climate, people and value – to equip the construction industry with the people, skills and technology to deliver a carbon neutral-built environment by 2050. 

Construction is one of Education Partnership North East’s regional curriculum specialisms with an extensive range of vocational courses and apprenticeships, industry-standard facilities at Sunderland College and Northumberland College and investment aligned to local skills priorities and the workforce of the future. 

In 2021, the group announced detailed plans for the ground-breaking £20 million Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) which will educate, train and upskill local people to create innovative, factory-built homes. 

The world-class facility, led by Sunderland College in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Ministry of Building Innovation and Education (MOBIE), based at Riverside Sunderland, will support the city’s ambitious city centre housing ecosystem to meet future housing needs locally, with the skills and experience to employ Modern Methods of Construction (MMC). 

HICSA will place Sunderland at the heart of the UK’s net zero ambitions using low carbon, renewable energy and smart technology, enabling the city to realise it’s Smart City and Net-Zero Carbon targets.  HICSA’s regional reach will also see an extension of the facility opened in the town of Ashington, as Education Partnership North East develops its new build campus for Northumberland College. 

Ellen Thinnesen Chief Executive said “The future of the construction sector is vital to the UK’s economic ambitions. Supporting this campaign and opening a new regional Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy is all part of our commitment to developing a sustainable workforce capable of transforming change. 

“With the need to accelerate low carbon, digital technologies and boost the capacity of the industry over the next decade, further education college’s play a vital role in enhancing public understanding of the wide range of opportunities and career routes available to secure fantastic employment in the built environment.” 

OneVoice has been developed by an influential consortium of driving the construction sector forward and works with Local Enterprise Partnerships to attract, develop, retain and, reward and celebrate the North East talent pool and encourages its stakeholders and clients to drive a better built environment and ensure a confident supply chain. 

Over 80 individuals and organisations, including Engie and Silverstone Building Consultancy who have been involved in several regeneration and capital build projects across Education Partnership North East’s campuses, have thrown their weight behind the campaign, which sets out the key themes and activity the regional construction sector is committed to, in order to move forward. 

Catriona Lingwood, chief executive at Constructing Excellence in the North East, said: “OneVoice is a collective industry effort, one that encourages putting our competitive differences aside to drive forward knowledge, shared practices and collaborative working to ensure that we are future proofing. It responds to industry advances driven by the Construction Leadership Council and delivers at a regional level, with a renewed industry ambition to address the climate emergency.  

“We have had unwavering sector support championing the campaign and to have the backing of Education Partnership North East is a big coup. The core values of the OneVoice campaign – people, value, climate and innovation run throughout all aspects of Education Partnership North East. Its ground-breaking Housing Innovation and Construction Skills Academy (HICSA) will ensure that the city’s young people and adults can upskill, train and learn in an innovative and environmentally friendly setting all of which OneVoice encompasses.” 

To find out more about the OneVoice campaign, visit www.cene.org.uk/onevoice/. 

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19