College principal’s ‘concern’ over new employers’ survey


Principal Judith Doyle has expressed her ‘concern’ over new figures revealing employers’ doubts about young people’s readiness for work after leaving education.

She was commenting on the British Chamber of Commerce’s report* which showed more than three-quarters (82%) of North East firms report a lack of work experience as a key reason young people are not ready for work.

A third of those questioned also felt young people lack ‘soft’ skills such as languages and leadership to succeed in the working world.

“These statistics are of deep concern and vocational FE colleges like Gateshead College have a crucial role to play in addressing this,” said Judith Doyle.

“We must and do take our responsibility to prepare students for work very seriously and start equipping them with the technical and softer skills they need to be a valuable employee from the very first day with us.

“FE is often overlooked in the debate on skills which tends to focus on schools and university but in my view this is where we can make a real difference; we all need to work together on this agenda.”

Gateshead College is a community college she added, actively engaging industry and commerce to provide the innovative training to deliver not only the vocational skills but wider employability skills demanded by industry and commerce.

“We work closely with employers, and with organisations including the NECC, to develop meaningful and relevant curriculum and employability programmes and courses that meet workforce needs. 

“Every student on a full time study programme benefits from appropriate work experience linked to their employment goals and they have opportunities to develop their own business ideas.

“Through competitions, live projects, employer placements, skills for work academies and apprenticeships students have some excellent opportunities to be prepared for the working world whether they choose to go directly into employment or via university.”

Judith Doyle cited the work the college is doing with companies like 21 Hospitality Group, Nissan and Nexus, where it is supporting employers’ business ambitions and commitments to young people. 

“The vocational skills training we provide for these and other employers demonstrates that we are absolutely focused on making sure our students and apprentices are well prepared for work and the more of this we can do the better.”

* North East Chamber of Commerce members formed an integral part of the British Chambers of Commerce Workforce Survey, Developing the Talents of the Next Generation, which welcomed responses from almost 3,000 businesses.