Education Partnership North East has appointed Jeff Bower as a dedicated industry lead to further develop its engineering and manufacturing academic and technical provision across its regional group of colleges.

Jeff will take up the role of Engineering and Manufacturing Industry Lead, where he will use his considerable experience in engineering and education to work in collaboration with key stakeholders and employers to strengthen the Group’s engagement and regional impact.

Engineering and manufacturing are a curriculum specialism for Education Partnership North East, and a skills priority area. In his role, Jeff will ensure the development of engineering skills are at the forefront of the curriculum, offering a learning experience for students and development and growth opportunities for staff that is highly employer influenced, and to the highest industry practice and standards.

On his appointment, Jeff said: “The role is an exciting new position at Education Partnership North East and will involve building on our strong links between employers, organisations, industry leaders and personnel to ensure there is cohesion and collaboration with further and higher education, so we can meet the current and future needs of engineering and manufacturing in the North East.

“The impact will see students make a seamless transition from their individual programmes of study to meet the requirements of employers looking to develop their workforce.”

Jeff has more than 40 years’ experience of working in engineering and education, including holding leadership positions at Sunderland College and New College Durham. Inspired by working with skilled craftsmen in his first job as an apprentice toolmaker in Peterlee who shared their knowledge, techniques and values, he understood the importance of a vocational approach to learning while also studying at Wearside College.

After 27 years in industry, Jeff took up a lecturing role at Derwentside College where he was a member of the Derwentside Engineering Forum, a forward-thinking and innovative organisation which worked alongside employers and local schools to introduce a range of initiatives to develop the engineering workforce in County Durham.

In 2008 Jeff received a BA (Hons) in Post Compulsory Education and Training from the University of Sunderland.

He added: “Working in education allowed me the opportunity to give something back to the engineering and manufacturing sector which has provided me with a brilliant career within industry and continued development throughout my career.

“One of the most rewarding aspects for me is to hear of the continued success of students in a range of roles with engineering organisations.

“The further education sector is crucial to the development of the region’s workforce. The engineering and manufacturing sector has faced numerous challenges and education is key to addressing new challenges by ensuring the development of skills, knowledge and behaviours required by industry.”

With over 150 years’ experience supporting the engineering and manufacturing sector, Education Partnership North East works with some of the region’s leading employers including Marelli, ZF, Unipres, Adient, Gestamp, Liebherr, Connor Solutions and Signal Plastics.

The Group’s extensive range of engineering and advanced manufacturing courses for young people and adults at Sunderland College and Northumberland College, which will also include electronic and engineering programmes at Hartlepool Sixth Form from September 2021, are delivered by experienced and dedicated staff in some of the best facilities in the North East.

The college’s Washington Campus will be transformed with the development of purpose-built learning spaces and workshops featuring state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, with the exceptional advanced manufacturing facilities at City Campus also being enhanced to give employers the skilled workforce they need.

Ellen Thinnesen, Education Partnership North East Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted Jeff decided to apply for this new role, a first of its kind for Education Partnership North East.

“Jeff’s role will cover the North East and Tees Valley where our many college campuses are located. I know Jeff is keen to ensure education and skills opportunities are designed, developed and delivered through the lens of the employer as well as through the adoption of next generation digital technologies.

“I am particularly excited to see what Jeff will achieve through his focus on girls and women into industry and STEM careers.”

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19