Gateshead College is investing over £300,000 in new machinery and revamping training programmes to address the North East’s shortage of highly skilled engineers.
The college’s £5.5 million purpose built Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics based at Team Valley in Gateshead, has seen a recent investment of more than £200,000 in state-of-the-art lathes, milling machines and supporting tools. A further £100,000 has been earmarked for more tooling equipment in the summer.
The machines and tools match those found in cutting-edge engineering and manufacturing workplaces and will be used to deliver the college’s range of revamped workforce development courses that have been developed hand in hand with leading industry employers.
Listening to feedback from businesses, the college has also redesigned its learning and development programmes to focus more on practical learning time with clear progression routes from pre-apprentice to higher level skills.
Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, said: “We know that the shortage of skilled workers in the industry is a growing concern among firms across the region. We’re taking action by making a significant investment in training future engineers to give employers access to the highest standard learning and development programmes and training facilities, helping them to prepare their workforce for advances in engineering techniques and practices.
“Employers have told us that they need more time spent on the development of practical skills. While the more academic route is valuable and we’ll continue to offer it, we’ve responded to industry needs by going back to basics to deliver professional and technical training that helps our business partners remain strong and competitive.
“Investing in the latest technology and extra machines and tools means students get more out of their time in the workshops, and one-to-one training sessions allow apprentices to spend more time doing and less time observing.”
Gateshead College is playing a key role in training and upskilling staff at many of the region’s leading manufacturing and engineering employers including Nissan, Vantec, Lear Corporation, and most recently, CPS Drivelink Ltd.
Paul Sowerby, engineering director at CPS Drivelink Ltd, said: “Gateshead College was highly reactive to our request for a bespoke training course that would train and upskill a few of our employees in welding skills. It was as simple as telling them what was needed and they came back to us with a solution that meant we were able to get our staff trained up quickly without impacting on daily operations. We’ve now significantly developed our business, increased sales and met customers’ requirements through this professional training.”
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.