Principal's blog - Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are the backbone of our skills-based economy, creating worthwhile career opportunities that allow employers to build a flexible, and motivated workforce.

At Gateshead College, we’re proud to be at the forefront of making sure that our North East business community has access to the skilled workforce they need and that young people have clear pathways to successful careers.

We deliver more than 2000 apprenticeships each year to many employers across a wide range of sectors, including advanced manufacturing, construction, engineering, hospitality, logistics, automotive and hair and beauty as well as tech and digital industries.

Beneficiaries range from some of the region’s big hitters such as car giant Nissan and transport operator Go North East to creative, digital companies and other SMEs that require an injection of skills to take their businesses forward.

With stretching Government targets around Apprenticeships we must ensure that it doesn’t result in quantity over quality. Our consistently high standard of delivery was recognised by Ofsted when they graded us outstanding in our June inspection, making us the only FE college in the country to receive outstanding in the last 12 months.  Equally important is our ability to engage employers in Apprenticeship programmes which has resulted in us securing around half a million pounds in extra funding from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), opening up even more opportunities for students and employers.

It is essential to work with businesses to develop bespoke solutions to the particular challenges they are facing and we have a strong record of doing this. Recently our work with G4S Utilities and Energy & Utility Skills has enabled us to develop a new dual fuel smart meter apprenticeship, known as a Trailblazer Apprenticeship, which sets out new employer led standards for jobs in this sector. It is this approach and flexibility which we feel sets us apart.

We want young people to be excited about their futures but also prepared. Choosing a career is a huge, life changing decision and that’s why we continue to invest in dedicated career advisers who help them explore their options to make an informed choice. This is supported by our lecturers who have good links with employers; many have worked in industry so they can equip students with the confidence and skills that employers need.

Too often young people and their parents don’t have access to information about Apprenticeships and options for technical education after school which is why, this week, we are holding the second of our Careers Choice events to give impartial advice about all the options after GCSEs.

Year-on-year, we are seeing more of our students going into direct employment or choosing an apprenticeship. Our own statistics show we are building on the success that was recognised by Ofsted and that we are giving our students an employment edge, making them attractive to local businesses, in fact our latest destination data shows an increase of 6% of students going into Apprenticeships.

There are some fantastic apprenticeship opportunities open to those who want to fulfil their career ambitions. With closer collaboration between schools, businesses and providers I’m confident that we can put apprenticeships on a level playing field with other employment routes and create greater confidence in them as a valuable step to a rewarding career. 

The funding for Gateshead College apprenticeship programmes is made available via the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and the European Social Fund (ESF). The Skills Funding Agency are responsible for improving the skills of England’s young people and adults to ensure we have a workforce of world-class standard. The European Social Fund is transforming lives through better skills and better job prospects.