ONE of the region’s largest infrastructure projects has been praised for its role in getting more young people into work.

Morpeth Northern Bypass, being constructed by Carillion in partnership with Northumberland County Council (NCC), received the backing of Julie Elliott MP, who visited the £31m project with local councillors last week [August 31].  Julie was attending as part of her placement with Industry and Parliament Trust, and was provided with an overview of the scheme that is helping more young people explore the opportunities offered in engineering and construction.

Learning more about what goes on behind the scenes at a multimillion-pound infrastructure project, Ms Elliott was joined by Cllr Grant Davey, leader of NCC; Cllr David Ledger, deputy leader of NCC; and Cllr Ian Swithenbank, portfolio holder for Streetcare and Environment at NCC.

They received an insight into the world of civil engineering from the desktop to diggers and everything in between, including the apprenticeship programme helping more young people into the industry.

Ms Elliott spoke with the project’s five technical apprentices about their experiences so far and their ambitions for the future once they complete their 30-month Level 3 BTEC in Civil Engineering qualification.

Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central, said: “It was really fascinating to see what goes on around site and, perhaps more so, what goes on behind the scenes.

“I’m particularly impressed by the apprenticeship scheme in place here. I had the chance to meet and speak with five very talented young apprentices who I know will have very strong careers ahead of them in the industry, and who are clearly enjoying the chance to be able to learn in a hands-on way as well as in the classroom – they’re a great example of the value of apprenticeships.”

As well as a tour of the site, Ms Elliott got to hear from various members of the team about the many different aspects of the project – from ecology to technology – and about the challenge the industry faces of getting more girls to study STEM subjects, which Carillion is actively involved with across the country.

Dave Bennett, Carillion project director, said: “Ms Elliott’s visit proved to be a great day for everyone involved.

“Not only did Ms Elliott and the Councillors get to see how projects like these work, but we got to speak about all the great things we’re doing – from protecting local ecology to working with the best tech to get the job done efficiently, and from supporting our local community to building careers.”

The Morpeth Northern Bypass project is set to be completed in Spring 2017, with the 3.8km long road connecting the A1 to Ashington and Blyth, opening up a large section of south east Northumberland for development opportunities and reducing congestion through Morpeth. It is expected the area will see a £47m economic boost in the decades to follow the completion of the project.

More information on the project can be found at www.morpethnorthernbypass.org, or by following the project on Twitter @MorpethBypass.