Local MP Ian Mearns visited Gateshead College to find out more about the adult students who are laying the foundations for careers in the construction sector.
The Labour member for Gateshead visited our Skills Academy for Construction on the Team Valley to see the vocational training provided by the college to equip adults with skills for a new career or to help them back into the workplace if they are unemployed.
He was shown around the 3,000 sq m site by the college’s principal and chief executive Judith Doyle to find out more about the many construction trade courses offered including brick laying, plumbing, electrical installation, painting and decorating and plastering.
He said: “The North East needs trained people in a whole range of skills - and that is exactly what Gateshead College is delivering for both young and old on this fantastic site. I think it’s a massive plus for the whole of the region; not just for Tyneside.”
John Ellison, 20, from Washington is training at Gateshead College as part of a three year Multi-trade Apprenticeship programme with the Mears Group.
This involves him working four days with Mears on residential projects across the country and one day at the Skills Academy for Construction. He said: “I was apprehensive about returning to college as an adult learner because I felt I might feel out of place. However, this is hasn’t been the case at all.
“The apprenticeship programme with Mears and Gateshead College has already given me a huge boost in confidence. The work can take me anywhere in the country which is great. I feel 100 per cent better off where I am now than where I was this time last year.”
Principal Judith Doyle added: “We were delighted to welcome Ian today, so he could see for himself the hard work, dedication and training that goes in to helping adults gain the skills employers are looking for and which will give them an edge in today’s highly competitive workplace.”
The MP’s visit, organised by Equality North East, coincided with Adult Learners' Week, a national celebration of the benefits of lifelong learning and an opportunity to explore the many types of learning available to adults from all walks of life. The event now in its 23rd year, has inspired international Adult Learner’s Week celebrations across the world.