Two regional further and higher education college groups have formalised a Strategic Alliance Agreement incorporating a new corporate governance approach for ‘place-based’ skills strategy.

Earlier this year, Education Partnership North East (EPNE) and the Education Training Collective (Etc.) announced a strategic skills partnership aligned to Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) from across the North East, North of Tyne and Tees Valley areas, specifically linked to developing and delivering technical training within retrofit, digital and modern methods of construction.

Now, following the ratification of the Skills and Post-16 Education Act in April 2022 to level up and drive economic growth across the country, EPNE and Etc. have formally signed the Strategic Alliance, including a clear intention to reshape ‘business as usual governance’.

This new and unique approach will see the Governors and Executive Leaders jointly and regularly collaborating outside of formalised Board meetings to shape and evolve a regional skills strategy contextualised for employers and the local communities served by each college group.

James Stuart, EPNE’s Chair of Governors, said: “This valued added approach to collective governance extends beyond the formality of corporation meetings and is a model rarely seen in the further education sector.

“I am delighted our boards are collaborating to ensure an ambitious new approach to regional skills strategy.”

Stuart Blackett, Etc.’s Chair of Governors, said: “This new and ambitious approach sends a very clear message that Further Education Governors, are at the heart of the skills system and are very well placed to shape and set the future of skills strategy for our region and communities.”

Recognising strength comes through strategic collaboration, EPNE and Etc. will work together to drive economic recovery and growth by giving local people training opportunities to secure well-paid jobs in key industries with skills gaps.

Utilising an innovative sector-leading approach which is fundamentally different to traditional skills collaborations, a new curriculum will be co-designed and delivered which is aligned to the respective Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs) of the Tees Valley, North East LEP, and North of Tyne geographical areas, specifically linked to digital, renewable and modern construction.

By boosting the quality of education on offer through flexible study options including Sector Work Based Academies (SWAPs) and Skills Bootcamps, the partnership will further prioritise local needs and local people, transforming the skills and training landscape.

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