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Apprentices build their careers across Sunderland

Developments underway in Sunderland are boosting job opportunities and supporting apprenticeships in a wide range of skills.


9 February 2024


For National Apprenticeship Week (5 -11 February), apprentices working on some of Sunderland's most exciting projects have been sharing their experiences.

The ongoing construction of the new Wear footbridge in the city centre has provided training opportunities with civil engineering company VolkerStevin, which is carrying out the work.

Amelia McVay is an apprentice Quantity Surveyor working on the project. She said: "Working as an apprentice on this project is a huge opportunity, helping create positive change and improvement in the North East is something I am incredibly grateful to be a part of.

"The apprenticeship scheme is amazing, but I think one of the most important skills I have gained is confidence. I came here not knowing about civil engineering, but everyone was so supportive and wanted to help me."

Mark Denham is VolkerStevin's project director for the bridge. He said: "The construction of the footbridge is a key part of the Riverside masterplan and will create lots of opportunities for the region. The project has already created jobs and opportunities for people and businesses in the area and supporting apprentices is a part of that. We have some incredibly talented young people working with us to deliver this significant infrastructure project."

VolkerStevin is amongst the contractors delivering regeneration in the city, not seen for decades. 

Elsewhere in the city, Wates is employing apprentices on the project to build AESC's new UK gigafactory in Washington.

Ashleigh Coombes is the Social Value Advisor for the project, she said: "Wates is really passionate about giving back to the local community in the areas where they are working and it's really important for us to invest in local people.

"We feel it's important that young people are told about the opportunities in construction and are given the chance to explore it for future careers - but we also deliver educational programmes for people who want to upskill. Apprentices are really important to Wates, and we have had over 66 apprentices on site so far, with 19 currently working on site."

Each contractor working with Sunderland City Council on these developments has made a commitment to employing apprentices and providing training opportunities for local residents.

Sunderland City Council's Leader, Councillor Graeme Miller, said: "Apprenticeships provide great opportunities, not only for school leavers and graduates, but for people at any stage of their career.

"I am delighted to see that these high-profile projects, which are changing the face of our city, are also giving apprentices and trainees the chance to train and gain valuable experience."

Other contractors Kier, Brims Construction, and SSE Energy Solutions continue to deliver the Riverside Sunderland programme of development which is bringing 10,000 jobs and 1,000 new homes to the land on both sides of the River Wear.

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