Apprenticeships and skills minister Robert Halfon visited Gateshead College on Monday January 23 to get a first-hand view of the technical and vocational skills being provided by the college to students and regional businesses.
Mr Halfon was visiting the college on the day Prime Minister Theresa May used her first regional Cabinet meeting to launch a Modern Industrial Strategy aimed at improving living standards, increasing the nation’s productivity and ensuring growth is shared across the whole UK. The Industrial Strategy will include plans for a radical overhaul of technical education to address its historical undervaluation in the UK and provide a credible alternative to the academic route for young people who choose not to go to university.
While visiting Gateshead College, Mr Halfon said: “I was proud to visit Gateshead College today as part of the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. The college has an enviable success rate, with around 90pc of its students going on to further study, apprenticeships or jobs.
“Having been lucky enough to meet students studying everything from catering to robotics, as well as budding builders at the college’s Skills Academy for Construction, I can safely say that this is a great example of the very best in apprenticeship and skills.
“Training our young people in the skills they need to climb the ladder of opportunity is a big part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. As the Prime Minister has set out, ensuring we extend the same opportunity and respect we give university graduates to those who pursue technical routes will ensure everyone can develop the skills they need to do the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future.”
Gateshead College is one of the few outstanding FE colleges in the country, based on its strong performance, close links with business and its track record of delivering technical, vocational education in core STEM subjects.
Judith Doyle, CEO and principal of Gateshead College, had several hours showing the skills minster around different campuses, speaking to students and employers, seeing first hand some of the types of learning they’re undertaking and capturing their views on issues like access to careers advice and guidance.
Judith Doyle said: “Technical education is already at the heart of our curriculum and has been for some time. From full time study programmes through to higher level technical training and apprenticeships, our curriculum is seamlessly aligned to the region’s economic priorities for skills development. We are here to get people work ready and give them an edge in the jobs market and that is what we do.
“Mr Halfon saw the exciting, innovative work we’re doing in the construction and building services sector, how we’re creating a dynamic new career pathway developing the higher level technical skills employers are demanding.
“Business organisations and employers recognise that we listen and can rapidly respond to their needs. We have worked hard to develop this, making us a little different to many FE colleges.
“We’re fully supportive of the government’s agenda and have demonstrated that outstanding FE colleges like ours, are delivering on this now and we can be instrumental in helping achieve these aspirations.
“Building on and investing in the examples of exceptional technical education and training which we have shown the minister today, coupled with improving access to high quality careers advice and guidance, will ensure there is opportunity for all and that our regional economy can prosper.”