A Northumberland College-led initiative which will transform skills training in the North East and help hundreds local people into jobs has received significant government funding.

The college, part of Education Partnership North East (EPNE), is using its expertise to lead a strategic project in partnership with key delivery partners including further education colleges, councils, training providers and universities who are committed to addressing local skills needs and specific industry priorities across the region.

Following a successful bid to the Local Skills Improvement Fund Northumberland College and its partners –Newcastle College, Tyne Coast College, Northumberland County Council, Newcastle City Council, SORA Group, Energy Central Campus Ltd, Newcastle United Foundation, Newcastle and Northumbria Universities – will invest in facilities, upskill teaching staff and deliver new courses in key areas identified in the North East England Chamber of Commerce’s (NEECC) Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP).

Through the LSIP, local people will benefit from enhanced skills training, helping them improve their employability prospects and secure jobs in sectors such as green construction (Retrofit), green energy and the move to Net Zero (advanced manufacturing and engineering), health and social care, and hospitality and tourism.

Employers will also have access to a workforce which is equipped with the specific skills business need to grow, which will provide a boost to the local economy.

Gary Potts, Principal of Northumberland College, said: “It is a proud moment for Northumberland College to lead this prestigious national policy strategy, but what really matters is our partnership of providers. Working together we will collectively deliver vital skills solutions for our local economy”.

Iain Nixon, Vice Principal of Partnerships and Commercial, said: “This skills initiative builds on the success of the recent Strategic Development Fund programme which our partnership of employers and providers also successfully delivered in the North of Tyne.

“Together with Newcastle College, Tyne Coast College, SORA Group, 3t Energy Group and Energy Central, NEEC, North East Automotive Alliance and Energi Coast we created a STEM outreach programme and new courses in battery manufacture, vehicle electrification, micro renewables and offshore wind, with investment made in cutting edge technology such as 3D immersive learning experiences.”

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon, said: “Building a world-class skills and apprenticeships nation means listening to the specific needs of local people, businesses, and institutions.

“This funding will revolutionise how we plug local skills gaps and provide a boost to the economy. Supporting colleges to better meet the needs of local employers not only boosts businesses; it also extends the ladder of opportunity to even more people from all backgrounds who will be equipped with the skills they need to secure a rewarding job close to home.”

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