Teesside teenagers training to become joiners and plumbers have been given a special behind the scenes tour of Teesside’s new showpiece Centre Square building.
They are learning their trades at Middlesbrough College through Northern Skills which works with more than 2,000 employers in the North East and Yorkshire.
The visit to Six Centre Square was the first time some of the newer trainees had visited a major construction project.
Their lecturer Tom Hammond said: “It was great for them to be able to get an understanding of what’s involved in such a big job. The first thing we talk about when they start with us is safety and they could see that safety is also the number one priority on site.”
There are nearly 100 students at the college training to be joiners and the departments teaching other trades have similar numbers.
“There’s so much work going on in and around Middlesbrough that the future looks really bright for them,” said Mr Hammond.
Seventeen-year-old David Carsley from Middlesbrough, who is a Level 2 learner in Plumbing, said: “I wasn’t too sure why I picked plumbing but I’m really glad I did and it was great to visit Centre Square to see what’s happening there.”
The main contractor for Six Centre Square is Bowmer+Kirkland (B+K) which has a North East regional office near Sunderland. B+K’s Project Manager Tony Knott hosted the students’ visit. “It was good to see so many of them showing an interest in the construction industry. I wish them well for the future,” he said.
B+K has sub-contracted 90% of the project to businesses based in the region. More than 60% of the work has gone to companies which are located within 30 miles of Middlesbrough.
The insurance giant AXA UK will move 450 of its staff to the new Centre Square building when it is finished early next year.
Although AXA is taking up much of the four-storey 40,000 sq ft building,14,000 sq ft is still available for other occupiers.
There is also a small amount of unoccupied space in the first phase of the development where a number of major companies including GB Bank, Firstsource and XPS Pensions have moved in.
The Centre Square project was launched six years ago by developer Ashall Projects, in partnership with Middlesbrough Council, after a study found that the town was failing to attract good white collar jobs because of an absence of Grade A office space.
Mark Ashall, the Managing Director of Ashall Projects, said the project is already benefitting the Tees Valley on a number of levels.
“The businesses re-locating to Centre Square have space to grow and – so importantly now – are based in Grade A energy efficient buildings,” he said. “These businesses are recruiting staff who like being in offices which make the most of natural light and they are also able to enjoy the advantages of working in the centre of town.
“Lots of local companies have been involved in the construction of the three buildings and I have been delighted to see that they have taken the opportunity to recruit apprentices.
“Finally,” he added, “We plan to add more buildings in Centre Square and wouldn’t it be great if some of those young joiners and plumbers worked on them?”
Details of the next phase of the development are due to be announced soon. Outline planning permission is already in place.
To discuss opportunities in Centre Square contact Stephen Brown at Dodds Brown on 01642 244130 or Alex Hailey at CBRE on 0113 394 8814.