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Apprenticeship Hub For North East Employers Launching at Newcastle College

Today marks the first day of National Apprenticeship Week and after almost a year of restrictions that have affected almost every employer, there has never been a better time to reflect on just how important apprentices will be, as we look to ‘Build the Future’ of our region and our country in a post-Covid and post-Brexit economy.

Newcastle College has spent the past 11 months adapting our apprenticeship provision to ensure we can still provide the right support to our apprentices and their employers. We know that many employers have found it tough to keep their apprentices in their workforce but if one thing has become clear during this pandemic, it is that apprentices are resilient, adaptive and skilful – the people we should be supporting as much as possible in order to avoid an even bigger skills shortage in the near future.

During this crisis, the government has loudly voiced its support for skills and vocational training more than ever before, acknowledging last summer that apprentices would be key to our recovery from the impacts of Covid-19 and announcing support for apprenticeship employers and providers through the Skills for Jobs plan - incentives to encourage more recruitment and retention of apprentices. And just last month, the FE Skills for Jobs White Paper was released after months of speculation, which confirmed that skills training was at the centre of its recovery plan.

The exciting thing for Newcastle College and NCG (the national group of colleges that it belongs to) is that the recommendations from the White Paper do not call for us to drastically change our plans or our strategy to meet those recommendations.

In fact, they confirm that we are on the right track already, that our priorities are exactly what they are looking for and that some of the exciting things we are launching this year are completely aligned with their vision to put employers at the heart of skills training.

In particular, we will be launching NCG’s Apprenticeship Hub, based on our main Rye Hill campus. It will combine the apprenticeship provision of Newcastle College and Carlisle College and will not only support apprenticeship delivery across all of our colleges, but importantly, it will provide a ‘go-to’ service for employers and aspirational apprentices across the North East and Cumbria.

Lynsey Whitehead – Director of Apprenticeships Operations at NCG

It is actually just the first of a much wider service we have planned for employers, which builds on what we already do here at Newcastle College. As a North East college, we’ve always been at the heart of our community, working closely with employers to develop our curriculum and to create a skilled workforce that not only meets the needs of our region but will drive it forward, supporting the recovery and future growth of our businesses and our local economy. We’ve forged valuable partnerships and relationships across sectors such as green energy because we want to make sure that our students and apprentices are gaining the right skills and the right experience, but also because we want to ensure we’re meeting the needs of our region.

The White Paper places a strong focus on working with employers to make a local economic impact. As part of NCG, we play a key role in supporting its mission to enable social mobility and economic prosperity for learners on a national scale. But all seven colleges in our group work closely with employers and local industry to offer skills training that leads to real employment opportunities and makes strong local impact in our individual regions.

The benefit of being part of a national group means we have access to a collaborative network who can share expertise and resources that will help each other to innovate, putting us in the perfect position to drive economic growth. It is that collective resource that now gives us this opportunity to create an employer service that will really benefit businesses here in the North East. We’ll be able to offer support for local businesses such as workforce planning advice, business clinics and specialist training opportunities, where we can create bespoke, tailor-made training.

Our ambition is to grow our apprenticeship provision further and offer even more higher level, degree and specialist apprenticeships, as it is these higher technical levels that the White Paper highlights as being most needed by employers.

The Apprenticeship Hub will of course benefit apprentices as they can come to us for careers advice and training opportunities that will give them the skills and experience they need for the career they want, but most importantly we’ll be able to offer a supportive service to employers across the North East that will support the recovery and rebuild of our region’s economy as we look towards the future.

Incentives to recruit new apprentices end in March. To find out more about the apprenticeships provision at Newcastle College, email employers@ncl-coll.ac.uk.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Newcastle College .

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