A civil engineering hopeful has secured a valuable industry placement with one of the North East’s biggest construction companies.

Cameron Kershaw, who is studying a BTEC in Engineering at Sunderland College, has been given the opportunity to put his training into practice on one of Sunderland’s newest developments thanks to Tolent and housing association Gentoo.

The 18-year-old is working alongside the firm’s civil engineers at the Brockwell Green site in Houghton-le-Spring as part of a Capacity and Delivery Fund (CDF) pilot in preparation for the launch of T Level qualifications in September.

Cameron said: “My placement has been fantastic so far and a lot more ‘hands on’ than I expected. Working with the Site Manager has enabled me to see a large amount of the construction process and the challenges they are faced with.

“I have also seen how the work I have been doing in college is applied in this area of engineering, and this has given me more confidence in my contribution.”

Cameron will spend 45 days on site as part of the pilot for the upcoming T Level courses – recently launched by the government and due to start in 2021 – which places students with employers such as Tolent, gaining job-specific skills and knowledge by offering a substantial industry placement alongside classroom learning.

Victoria Moyse, Senior Employment Team Manager at Education Partnership North East, said: “Congratulations to Cameron on securing his industry placement with Tolent.

“At Education Partnership North East, we are committed to supporting our students get career ready and develop the technical and work-based skills which employers are looking for.

“Meaningful industry placements give our students both the edge in the jobs market and an exciting insight into their potential future careers.

“We are excited to partner with them to provide fantastic opportunities for our students and forge lasting partnerships with employers as we launch our T Level programme later this year.”

The Brockwell Green development is being delivered in partnership with Homes England and will see 44 two-and-three-bedroom homes and two-bedroom bungalows built for rent on behalf of Gentoo. The scheme pays homage to the area’s local mining heritage and is named after a pit line at the former Houghton Colliery.

Ashleigh Coombes, Admin and Customer Services Manager at Tolent Living, added: “Tolent believes in investing in the future of construction and this hasn’t changed with COVID-19. The industry has not stopped during the pandemic and Tolent continues to be awarded new schemes.

“Therefore, we must continue to invest in the professionals of the future to ensure there is not a skills shortage.

“We have ensured our sites are safe and any placements are assigned to developments which can maintain a COVID Safe policy with the addition of a student on site.”

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