Two of the region’s largest college groups are set to lead a retrofit revolution which will deliver skills, jobs, and growth across the region.

Education Partnership North East (EPNE) and the Education Training Collective (Etc.) have been announced as official partners of the Retrofit Training Academy CIC to deliver leading retrofit qualifications and training to thousands of people in the North East and Tees Valley.

From their respective training academy hubs both college groups will roll out a wide range of courses aimed at upskilling those already working in the trades, in addition to offering retraining opportunities for jobseekers, part of a drive to contribute to the training and development of 400,000 retrofitters to help meet the Government’s 2050 Net Zero targets.

As two of only nine hubs in the UK, and the only accredited training partners in the North of England, EPNE and the Etc. will work collaboratively to ensure the delivery of construction, renewable energy and retrofit skills, resulting in local jobs and growth.

After several years of visioning between Sunderland College and Sunderland City Council, the North East Academy CIC will be based at the upcoming £19 million Housing and Innovation Construction and Skills Academy (HICSA) at Sheepfolds in Sunderland.

The cutting-edge training facility – part of the Riverside Sunderland development – will see people from Wearside trained in both modern methods and the technical skills needed to build smart or manufacturing homes, in addition to approved qualifications and the technical expertise and competence to retrofit older homes.

Ellen Thinnesen, Chief Executive of EPNE, said: “This exciting new strategic partnership will see Redcar and Cleveland College, part of the Education Training Collective, and EPNE’s Sunderland and Northumberland Colleges come together to develop and deliver a regional response to the current skills shortages within the construction Industries.

“We have great things planned and I know our colleges are going to really make a real and meaningful difference for the region.”

The Etc. academy will be based at Redcar and Cleveland College’s new Clean Energy Education Hub, a cutting-edge specialist £3.2m training centre focussed on giving people the skills to meet the demands of Teesside’s growing renewable and low carbon sector.

Grant Glendinning, Chief Executive Officer and Group Principal of the Etc. said: “As educators we have a vital part to play in equipping people with the green skills to meet economy demands in readiness to help achieve Net Zero targets.

“The launch of our Clean Energy Education Hub at Redcar and Cleveland College, under the leadership of our Executive Principal Jason Faulkner, is testament to our ongoing commitment to better understand and respond to employer needs as they move towards cleaner and greener ways of operating.

“Our partnership with the Retrofit Academy CIC Hub feels like a natural next step, and we look forward to working with colleagues at EPNE to meet retrofit skills needed now and in the future across the region.”

Retrofitting existing residential properties is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to reducing carbon footprint, as heat leaks through windows, doors, and uninsulated walls, particularly in older properties.

The Retrofit Academy CIC works with local authorities and colleges across the UK to drive retrofit knowledge and skills, creating partnerships to train potential retrofit coordinators and assessors, enabling them to identify areas for improvement in a home such as the need for insulation, solar panels, and air source heat pumps.

Chief Executive Officer David Pierpoint said: “We are delighted to welcome Education Partnership North East (EPNE) and the Education Training Collective (Etc.) onto our network of official training partners.

“We are excited to be partnering with colleges that share our vision and passion for delivering green skills. The provision of essential retrofit skills in the North East region means we can collectively accelerate the workforce required to reach net zero targets.”

To find out more about Retrofit Academy courses in the North East visit and for the Tees Valley

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