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Business & Economy

£15m cash boost to keep the North East working

Gateshead College has been awarded £15m from the European Social Fund through the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to help get more people into jobs and training and support businesses to upskill their workforces.

The multi-million-pound cash injection was the highest amount awarded in the latest round of SFA funding allocations for colleges in the North East Local Enterprise area.

Gateshead College was also the only college to receive money from two funds with £10m to support workforce development programmes that help meet the skills needs of industries identified as being key to the region’s economic growth and upskilling and retraining those at risk of redundancy.

A further £5m will be used to support unemployed people to get back into work. The college demonstrated an exemplar track record for delivering high quality pre-employment programmes for companies including Go North East, Vantec and intu’s Retail Gold, which provides jobseekers with the skills to secure positions across a range of businesses at intu Eldon Square and intu Metrocentre.

Delivered over three years, 50% of those taking part secured employment and a further 20% went on to further study.

Judith Doyle, principal and chief executive at Gateshead College, says: “I am thrilled that Gateshead College has been awarded this funding. It is great news for the region as it means we can offer more support to secure the futures of our businesses, create more employment opportunities and help to grow the key industries that are crucial to the economic prosperity of the North East.

“We will take every step needed to maximise the opportunities the funding will bring by working closely with the North East LEP, businesses and key stakeholders such as the North of England Chamber of Commerce to make sure our provision is centred on meeting skills shortages, supporting the growth and success of SMEs and addressing unemployment in the industries that need it most.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to really put the North East on the map by developing and retaining an enviable highly skilled workforce that meets the needs of today’s businesses.”

Gateshead College is the number one college in the North East and sixth in the UK based on the success of its students. Its apprentices are benchmarked in the top 10% for their achievements and the latest data shows that 95% of students had a positive destination, progressing to either further or higher education, starting an apprenticeship or securing a job.

James Ramsbotham, North East England Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said: “This funding award is excellent news for Gateshead College and for the North East. The college has a great track-record of helping to prepare young people for work, and this funding will support our SMEs to prosper and grow, creating more employment opportunities.”

Gavin Prior, general manager at intu Metrocentre, added: “This is fantastic news and a well-deserved funding award for Gateshead College. They understand what businesses want and what it takes for students to be employment ready. They worked with us to design, develop and deliver a hugely successful training and recruitment programme which has helped hundreds of people to get back to work and simplified recruitment for our retailers. Building such a successful relationship with them continues to be a huge benefit to intu and our tenants. I’m delighted with the news.”

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East LEP said: “This is great news for our region’s learners and testament to the hard work of Gateshead College. Gateshead College and our forward-looking FE sector in the North East play a vital role in ensuring we have the skilled workers our regional economy needs to compete in the global marketplace.”