Building skills for a stronger economy 

November 30, 2017

North East firms have turned to the region’s top performing college to help them boost productivity, become more competitive and prepare for a prosperous future

In the fast-paced world of business, employers are boosting the skills base of their workforce, so they can remain competitive now and in the future. Many firms have benefited from teaming up with a training provider such as Gateshead College, which identifies companies’ skills needs and creates a training programme to suit their individual business requirements.

This approach has been adopted by dozens of employers who currently work with Gateshead College. The college takes time to understand each company and their future aims and aspirations and then creates a flexible training programme to help them meet specific business goals.

As well as delivering apprenticeships to more than 400 businesses, Gateshead College also offers many other training programmes that are tailored to the needs of each company. The training can be delivered at the college or at the employer’s premises, depending on what suits the business best.

Greggs is one of several companies to benefit from Gateshead College’s expertise in 2017. Together the two organisations are delivering a new apprenticeship scheme that will help the food-to-go retailer fast-track its national expansion plans. The initiative will see 120 apprentices in eight locations across the country trained in retail service or retail management.

In the built environment sector, the college is working alongside housebuilder Persimmon to deliver the Combat to Construction scheme, which retrains ex-military personnel for a career in the industry. Based in locations around the country, trainees gain skills in bricklaying and joinery and work on live housing developments across the UK, eventually obtaining an apprenticeship at the end of their studies.

PlanBEE is another unique initiative that gives construction employers access to talented undergraduate-level apprentices with a rounded understanding of the built environment industry. Ryder Architecture chose the college to help deliver the scheme, which was launched last year with a powerful alliance of architects, designers, contractors and engineering specialists.

Unlike traditional programmes of this nature, apprentices complete their qualifications while working across several companies and onsite visits and residentials, which broadens their overall knowledge of the industry and creates a flexible workforce capable of applying their skills across various construction disciplines.

Gateshead College works with a range of other sectors, from automotive, engineering and financial to leisure and health. Beneficiaries of the training include large companies and small firms that make up a significant proportion of the North East economy. Start-ups and small businesses can also access skills funding via Go>Grow, a multi-million-pound regional skills and enterprise programme managed by Gateshead College. It was launched after the college secured £15 million from the European Social Fund through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, says: “We work closely with businesses to develop a dynamic training solution that is adapted to support the company’s individual needs. The key aim is to help companies, and the sectors they operate in, to become more productive, competitive and profitable.

“We try to really understand each company we work with, build up a strong level of mutual trust and effectively become an extension of their business. This approach has enabled employers across the region to gain demonstrable value from the training we deliver.”

Gateshead College

Scroll to next article
Go to

£75 million turnover in sight