Building a constructive partnership

November 5, 2019

Together, Sunderland College and Gentoo Group are developing the region’s workforce and, importantly, are providing career opportunities for people in the North East

Sunderland College is one of the largest providers of post-16 education in the North East and has a long-standing history of working with Gentoo Group to develop a talented workforce for the future.

The two organisations formalised their relationship in 2017, entering into a strategic partnership, which is going from strength to strength, as they bridge the skills gap across the region.

Sunderland College is committed to partnering with employers to deliver a careers-focused curriculum and ensuring its students benefit from industry-specific learning opportunities. From work experience placements, industry visits, guest lectures and live projects, students are given access to a host of meaningful opportunities to develop their skills.

Recently, Alex Hammond, head of learning and organisational development at Gentoo, was welcomed to Sunderland College’s state-of-theart £30 million City Campus, along with two of Sunderland College’s apprentices to deliver a careers-focused talk to 60 construction and building services students.

Students were given the opportunity to learn more about apprenticeships and Gentoo’s recruitment process, as well as hearing more about the 35 apprentices currently working for the housing association in areas of electrical, gas, plumbing, bricklaying and roofing. They also heard from current Sunderland College apprentices, Tahnee Kelly and Adam Fraser, who are working for Gentoo’s health and safety and customer and community teams.

Iain Nixon, vice-principal, partnerships and commercial at Sunderland College, says: “We are committed to delivering a careers-focused curriculum and providing our students with opportunities to work with and learn from local employers to gain the skills necessary to prepare them to enter into their chosen industry.

“Gentoo is a high-quality organisation and a long-standing and valued partner of the college, and we share many of the same values, which are reflected in our combined commitment to apprenticeships – nurturing the next generation of talent and creating future leaders.”

Gentoo’s recent intake of 16 apprentices includes five Sunderland College students who came out on top of 1150 applicants for the vacancies. They will start on salaries of £12,500, which is £5200 above the minimum apprentice wage. Upon completion of each year of their apprenticeship, their pay will increase by £3000.

Alex Hammond, head of learning and organisational development at Gentoo, says: “We are delighted to be working with Sunderland College again this year as one of our strategic partners for the delivery of apprenticeships. We’ve been working with the college for over 15 years and the team has a proven track record of delivering excellent training and development to support our apprentices to succeed in their chosen professions.”

Sunderland College
Sunderland College has developed 157 Apprentices working in partnership with 97 employers including, Caterpillar, Marelli (formerly Calsonic Kansie), MRC Global, Prima Cheese, Smithers Oasis, Northumbrian Fine Foods, Persimmon Homes, Esh Construction, Durham University, South Tyneside Council and Sunderland Home Care.
To find out more about Sunderland College visit

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