The UK’s newest skills academy finally opens its doors

A pioneering civil engineering skills academy unlike anything else in the North East has been officially opened in Hartlepool.

The new skills academy from Seymour Civil Engineering and principal partners Hartlepool College of Further Education and Hartlepool Borough Council will provide certified qualifications to future and current civil engineers both locally and nationally with the aim of helping to close the ever-growing skills gap in the industry.

According to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) the industry needs to recruit in excess of 31,000 people every year to 2022, while research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills suggests more than 750,000 people will leave the sector between 2014 and 2024 and there are additional fears that Brexit could result in the loss of a further 100,000-200,000 personnel.

Graham McPhail, CITB Head of Education and Training, said: “With the industry expected to grow in the coming years amid a skills shortage and the workforce implications of Brexit, it’s essential to give workers the skills they need to become qualified, to not only get on with their careers but also benefit the industry as a whole.”

The new academy from Seymour Civil Engineering will incorporate a wide and diverse training and skills curriculum including house building, surveying, planning, street works, plant & machinery training, horticulture, landscaping, tree surgery and general construction operative apprenticeships.

The site is nestled in 11 acres of land off Brenda Road in Hartlepool and has been made possible thanks to Hartlepool Borough Council making the land available for lease. It is the culmination of three years of planning by the multi award-winning firm.

Niall Crosby, Academy Manager, said: “The initial vision of the academy was to help to go some way to closing the skills gap. Seymour wants to be able to offer quality learning for a range of age groups.

“The academy provides a one-stop-shop for employers to support their training needs across all aspects of construction and civil engineering. Being a large local employer, our offering will be dynamic, evolving in response to market needs and employers’ requirements – ensuring highly trained staff have perfected their trades away from commercial pressures but in a real-life simulated environment. The opportunities that this academy brings are endless.

“To name just a few of the programmes initially on offer include: General Construction Operatives Apprenticeships, NPORS & CPSCS plant training and Certification, confined space training, safe lifting operations, slinging/signalling, protection of underground services, short duration courses including abrasive wheels, manual handling, asbestos awareness, working at height, health and safety – IOSH, NEBOSH and Water Hygiene.

Niall added: “Hartlepool Borough Council has been instrumental in us realising our ambitious plan to provide a new state-of-the-art training academy. We are truly delighted that we have been able to create such an offering in our hometown and we hope it will go some way to putting the skills of the North-East on the map.”

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said: “The council is absolutely committed to doing all it can to ensure that our young people get the best start in their careers, so we were delighted to play a key role in the creation of this training academy.

“There is a shortage of skilled young people in the construction and civil engineering sectors in Hartlepool and thee wider Tees Valley and this ambitious partnership between the Council, Seymour Civil Engineering and Hartlepool College of Further Education will help to close that gap.

“This academy will provide both employment and training for employment, not only for Hartlepool but for the North-East. Working together, we are laying the foundations for many young careers in an industry which is vital to the financial prosperity of the town, the region and the country.”

For more information on courses available at the new skills academy please contact

Veterans’ skills set them ahead says leading civil engineer boss Kevin Byrne

Those who have sacrificed the most are being supported by a leading civil engineering firm.

Seymour Civil Engineering is one of the latest companies to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant, a promise to acknowledge and understand those who serve or who have served in the armed forces.

Managing Director Kevin Byrne believes that ex service personnel have special skills and attributes that set them ahead in the work place – and estimates around 10% of the current Seymour workforce have served.

He said: “At Seymour, we have always employed a high proportion of ex services personnel and have always actively recruited service leavers as we recognise the benefits of the transferrable skills, which provide us with a highly trained workforce and disciplined calibre of personnel.

“We are thrilled that signing the Armed Forces Covenant has formalised publicly our support and pride that we hold for our Armed Forces.”

The covenant focuses on helping members of the Armed Forces community and their families have the same access to government and commercial services and products as any other citizen.

Support is provided in a number of areas including education, family well-being, having a home, access to healthcare, starting a new career and more.

Kevin has now encouraged other business leaders from across the UK to join the charge and back the pledge.

He added: “By engaging further with the Armed Forces we believe this will strengthen the skill sets of our workforce, whilst providing opportunities to veterans to give back in some small way to the sacrifices they have made for our country.”

Government Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said: “Signing the Armed Forces Covenant is a fantastic way to show support for our former and current service men and women, as well as their families.”

For more information about signing the covenant visit: