Alex Hammond, Head of Learning and Development at Gentoo was welcomed to Sunderland College’s state-of-the-art £30m City Campus, along with two of Sunderland College’s apprentices to deliver a careers-focused talk to 60 Construction and Building Services students.

The event, organised by Sunderland College forms part of its commitment to partner with employers to deliver a careers-focused curriculum, which includes industry visits, work experience, guest lectures and live-projects.

Students were given the opportunity to learn more about apprenticeships and Gentoo’s recruitment process, as well as hearing more about the 35 apprentices currently working for the housing association in areas of electrical, gas, plumbing, bricklaying, roofing, surveying, housing management, paralegal and business administration. They also heard from current Sunderland College apprentices, Tahnee Kelly and Adam Fraser who are working for Gentoo’s Health and Safety and Customer and Community Teams.

Iain Nixon, Vice Principal Partnerships and Commercial, at Sunderland College, said: “We are committed to delivering a careers-focused curriculum and providing our students with opportunities to work with and learn from local employers to gain the skills necessary to prepare them to enter into their chosen industry.
“Gentoo is a high-quality organisation and a long-standing and valued partner of the college and we share many of the same values, which are reflected in our combined commitment to apprenticeships – nurturing the next generation of talent and creating future leaders.”
Gentoo and Sunderland College have established a relationship stretching back years, with countless apprentices securing full-time positions within the housing association. This led to the formalisation of a strategic partnership in 2017 to develop the region’s workforce. To date, the collaboration has allowed Sunderland College to ensure its students are gaining the necessary skills to prepare them for the world of work, and has allowed Gentoo to promote employment and career opportunities to students through work experience initiatives, whilst providing further development and training of its existing 1,200-strong workforce.

Gentoo’s recent intake of 16 apprentices includes five of Sunderland College’s students studying Business Administration and Electrical Installation/Engineering. The five apprentices came out on top of 1,150 applicants for the vacancies and will start on salaries of £12,500, which is £5,200 above the minimum apprentice wage. Upon completion of each year of their apprenticeship, their pay will increase by £3,000.
Iain added: “We have worked hand-in-hand with Gentoo through to deliver high-quality training, apprenticeship opportunities and workforce development, as well as providing a range of work experience placements for our students to improve employability and work-readiness skills to produce a consistent pipeline of work-ready talent.
“I wish each and every one of the 16 apprentices the best of luck in their new roles.”
Alex Hammond, Head of Learning and Organisational Development at Gentoo, added:
“We are delighted to be working with Sunderland College again this year as one of our strategic partners for the delivery of apprenticeships. We’ve been working with the college for over 15 years and they have a proven track record of delivering excellent training and development to support our apprentices to succeed in their chosen professions.”
To date, Sunderland College has developed 157 Apprentices working in partnership with 97 employers including, Caterpillar, Marelli (formerly Calsonic Kansie), MRC Global, Prima Cheese, Smithers Oasis,Northumbrian Fine Foods, Persimmon Homes, Esh Construction, Durham University, South Tyneside Council and Sunderland Home Care

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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