Business-led education partnership helps launch new Career College for the North East

Employers and the education sector are combining their strengths to launch a new initiative to give young people in the North East the skills they need to secure good jobs and careers.

Gateshead College will be launching a 14-19 Career College specialising in Architecture and Construction Management, with leading employers in the region feeding directly into the curriculum.

This innovative project, approved by the Career Colleges Trust, will enhance the links the college already has with regional employers while also establishing stronger connections with local secondary schools.

The Career College will allow school pupils in Years 10 and 11 to study a ‘Design, Engineer, Construct’ curriculum alongside traditional academic GCSEs, with an emphasis on the application of mathematics, science, technology and creativity. 

The announcement from Gateshead College coincides with research published today (November 29) by Career Colleges which shows that there are disparities between what HR decision makers want to see on CVs compared to what young people think they want to see.

Less than half of the 14-19 year-old respondents identified attention to detail and spelling and grammar (47%) as something they think employers look for when in fact it was rated alongside real life work experience as one of the most important attributes. This research highlights the importance of providing the right mix of vocational training and academic education with a focus on employability skills and Career Colleges offer the best of both worlds.

During the last 12 months, Gateshead College has been working with a powerful partnership of architects, engineers, builders, and construction managers as part of an initiative called Plan BEE (Campaign for Change in Built Environment Education) spearheaded by Ryder Architecture. The partnership has looked to address skills gaps in their industry while also creating more valuable people through a new architectural engineering and management programme. They have joined forces with Northumbria University to help devise this new higher level pathway into careers in the sector and successfully recruited its first cohort in 2016.

Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College, said:

“Building on the success of PlanBEE, we are keen to reach out to school pupils who may be interested in a range of professional careers in the built environment sector and give them a clear line of sight to that career from an early age.  As a result, we have developed a 14-16 curriculum offer as part of a new ‘Career College’ initiative we will be launching in September 2017.

“The principles and approaches that are now being implemented within the PlanBEE higher level skills programme will be nurtured at an early stage and will enable pupils who wish to, to progress with more knowledge and confidence into a wide range of potential careers in the built environment sector.”

Gateshead’s Career College aims to explore and promote the broad range of career pathways in the construction industry and to attract talented and creative young people aged 14-16 into a range of technical and professional roles.

Judith Doyle added: “By working with industry partners to provide work experience, career coaching, guru lectures, and industry projects, the college hopes to shape a more adaptable and enthusiastic group of young people. We hope they will have a more positive view of the industry and the attributes and skills to progress to further and higher study and to succeed in a rapidly changing built environment sector.”

Employers working with Gateshead College include Barratt Homes, Cundall, Sir Robert McAlpine, Ryder Architecture, FaulknerBrown Architects, Xsite Architects, and the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT).

Tim Bailey, director at Xsite Architects, said: “Young people who can demonstrate they’ve got relevant work experience under their belt will always stand out for me. Knowing they understand a bit about the industry they want to work in is important but even more significant is that they realise what work is like, how they need to behave in the workplace and what will be expected of them. Attitude is as important as aptitude and that’s why we are so keen to develop our partnership with Gateshead College and wholly support the development of their Career College in Architecture Construction and Management. We want to get involved and play a role in inspiring a new generation of highly skilled employees for our business and our sector’s future.”

Lord Baker says:

“I am delighted to see our Career College network continuing to grow. The partnership below employers and FE colleges is absolutely key to ensuring young people are adequately skilled and prepared for work.

“Gateshead College’s new Career College will undoubtedly help address the skills shortages being faced by the booming construction industry in the North East. And, importantly, it will provide 14-19 year olds with excellent vocational pathway into fulfilling and exciting careers.”

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.