An aspiring electrician has been given the opportunity to get her first taste of the world of construction by completing a placement at one of Sunderland’s newest housing developments.

Reanna Wilson is currently studying to become an electrician at Sunderland College and has been given the opportunity to put her training into practice on one of our newest development thanks to leading leading energy, services and regeneration company ENGIE and housing association Gentoo.

The 18-year-old will be joining the site team on a long-term placement until summer 2021 where she’ll be supporting the development of 56 new-build houses and bungalows.

Her placement is part of a pilot for the upcoming T Level courses – recently launched by the government and due to start in 2021 – which places students with employers like ENGIE for one or two days a week, to gain work experience whilst studying.

Throughout her time at Keelman Rise in Downhill, Sunderland, Reanna will be supported by both the site team and BA Electrical Contractors which will be helping her gain valuable experience as she looks towards pursuing a full-time career in the construction industry.

She said: “I was buzzing when I got the placement with ENGIE! I was really excited to be able to work on site and get the experience. It’s absolutely crucial because if you don’t have the experience it makes it a lot harder to progress. I’m really excited to get going.

“I’m doing electrical engineering at college. It’s something I’ve liked from the start and it’s something I’m really interested in and I can really see myself progressing a career as an electrician.”

Her placement, and the experience it brings, is a key part of ENGIE’s programme of encouraging women into construction which gives opportunities for women to learn more about the industry through talks and organised events, as well as programmes of work placements like Reanna’s.

Victoria Moyse, Senior Employment Team Manager at Education Partnership North East, said: “We are so proud of Reanna and delighted to have had the opportunity to partner with Engie on co-ordinating this amazing industry placement.

“At Education Partnership North East, we are committed to supporting our students to get career ready and develop the technical and work based skills which employers are looking for. Meaningful industry work placements give our students both the edge in the jobs market and an exciting insight into their potential future careers.

“The new T-Level qualifications offer students the knowledge and experience required for skilled employment, further study or higher apprenticeships, while the industry placements provide real life, hands on industry experience allowing learners to put into practice the skills developed in college and make a meaningful contribution to employers.”

Amy Porter, CSR Manager at ENGIE, added: “We’re delighted to be supporting Reanna in her training by giving her the opportunity to get real, hands-on, experience at one of our newest developments. What she’ll learn by being part of the team, and learning from her colleagues, will be invaluable for her in the future.

“I am also pleased that we at ENGIE are helping more women get into the construction industry through opportunities like the one Reanna is pursuing. Our objective is to show that there are no barriers for anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry.”

Joanne Gordon, Head of Development at Gentoo Group, said: “As an organisation rooted in Sunderland we’re delighted to be able to support a local student like Reanna’s training and development through both hands-on working opportunities and off-site training thanks to our exciting new affordable development site.

“It’s an absolute priority for us to give something back to local communities through our developments in the city and as a predominantly female affordable homes team here at Gentoo we’re especially excited that by supporting Reanna we can also help change the face of construction by supporting career progression of a woman in the sector.”

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