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Morgan Sindall group photo at West Suffolk College

A new formal partnership aimed at driving career attainment for young people in Suffolk has been established by Morgan Sindall Construction and West Suffolk College - one of the country’s leading further education and apprenticeship providers.

Representatives came together to officially form the partnership and signal their commitment to making sure that young people in the region have the best access possible to rewarding career opportunities. This is the twelfth such partnership that Morgan Sindall Construction has signed with an education establishment in the East of England.

The event marked six years of collaboration between the two business and education establishments. This has seen Morgan Sindall Construction deliver guest lectures, STEM workshops and CV and interview technique sessions for college students. In addition, a string of site visits have taken place and two-week work experience placements for students were introduced.

One of the projects that students were invited to visit – in order to acquire a better understanding of construction techniques and roles – was the £24 million West Suffolk Operational Hub scheme in Bury St Edmunds. More than 520 students attended the site, across a range of different curriculum events. The experience proved so popular that the team decided to build a dedicated viewing platform overlooking the scheme.

The collaborative approach nurtured between the college and contractor has provided a career launchpad for a number of students, some of whom are now engaged on degree apprenticeship programmes with Morgan Sindall Construction. They are also acting as mentors, helping to inspire other students to explore a career in construction.

Peter Whitmore, Managing Director for Construction East at Morgan Sindall Construction, said: "Signing this partnership is hugely rewarding. It demonstrates our commitment to supporting educational attainment through curriculum activities, lectures and work experience placements. We're showing West Suffolk College that we’re here to stay and want to support them for the long term - building on the fantastic successes we’ve already had together."

Dr Nikos Savvas is CEO of Eastern Colleges Group (including West Suffolk College and Abbeygate Sixth Form in Bury St Edmunds and One Sixth Form in Ipswich). The Group reaches over 14,000 students – offering A-levels, vocational qualifications and a wide and varied range of apprenticeships, degrees through University Studies and upskilling and reskilling courses for adults.

Dr Savvas, said: “This partnership is yet another demonstration of how seriously we take quality and standards to prepare our students with the job skills and experience they need for life. We can’t work as educators without collaborating, to serve our community and the local economy – helping our students make connections to growing sectors – including energy, housing, technology and logistics – linking more skills to jobs than ever before.”

peter and nikos

Helen Clements, Morgan Sindall Construction’s Social Value Manager, said, "Over the last decade, we have delivered a lot of projects in and around Bury St Edmunds and the wider Suffolk county. We really wanted to use these projects as a springboard for showcasing our work to young people and creating a meaningful connection with a regional education establishment.

"The construction industry is burdened by outdated perceptions and that continues to put a lot of young people off pursuing a career in the sector. We have to do something about it and that's exactly what our partnership with West Suffolk College is all about. Changing the industry for the better needs to be meaningful and founded on long-term partnerships to help start turning the tide and showing our next generation that construction is an exciting and purposeful place to be."

Debbie Coomes, Executive Director at West Suffolk College has been working with Helen over the last six years and is looking forward to what the newly signed partnership will bring. She says: "Working with Morgan Sindall Construction is proof that long-term partnerships with meaningful activities and targets really do work. It has helped us develop our students and it’s helped Morgan Sindall find talented apprentices that have gone on to climb their career ladder."

The next stage of the partnership will see West Suffolk College working together with former students, who are now Morgan Sindall Construction apprentices, and the Morgan Sindall Construction team to shape and support the re-introduction of specialist HNC and HND courses, and the development of a three-year BSc Honours in Construction Management.