Monthly report – May 2019

May 1, 2019

The North East is at the forefront of a fresh Government skills agenda following New College Durham’s bid to become an Institute of Technology. Here, members of the region’s business community reflect on the news

The North East’s position at the vanguard of advanced manufacturing and technological innovation will be strengthened by a new educational endeavour aimed at nurturing the workers of tomorrow, regional business leaders have said.

New College Durham was last month announced as one of the Government’s preferred bidders to become an Institute of Technology.

The new development, described as having the capacity to usher in a “new skills revolution” across the North East, could open as early as September.

The Government-backed Institute will work alongside industry, offering students higher level technical training to ease skills gaps in science, technology, English and maths (STEM).

Concentrating on areas such as advanced manufacturing, engineering and the digital sector, the Institute will, according to Prime Minister Theresa May, “help end outdated perceptions that going to university is the only desirable route” for youngsters.

The college’s bid success means it is now at the final stage in the process to become an Institute, and bosses say they are speaking to partners and the Department for Education to work towards a potential opening later this year.

New College Durham – one of 12 educational establishments chosen by the Government to share a £170 million pot and create Institutes across the UK – partnered with regional employers, including Sunderland car maker Nissan and Bowburn- headquartered construction and built environment firm Esh Group, to develop its proposal.

Principal John Widdowson said the Institute will help future-proof the region’s skillset. “As employers of all sizes look to equip themselves for the more digitised and technology-based economy of the future, securing a highly-skilled and qualified workforce will be a major priority.

“The Institute will enable an even closer partnership with employers, collaborating to design and offer top-quality courses and qualifications that meet the needs of industry, both now and in the future.”

Ian Green, senior controller/section manager at Nissan, said: “The Institute will be at the heart of a new skills revolution in the North East. It will help provide higher level skills for manufacturing companies and inspire people of all ages.”

Ben Gilhespy, operations director of the Engineering and Manufacturing Network, said: “We’ve a long-standing and successful relationship with New College Durham and have been supporting them with their bid to be chosen as a hub for the new institutes.

“It will strengthen the North East’s position as a global leader in manufacturing and technology.” Michelle Rainbow, skills director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “High- quality and high-level technical education is hugely important for growing our economy and this new Institute is a collaborative and innovative approach to the region’s growing demand.”

Jonathan Walker, North East England Chamber of Commerce assistant director for policy, added: “We were a strong supporter of this application. This investment should help to address real skills needs felt by North East employers and will equip young people to build a career in our region.”

The new institutes form part of a wider Government educational sector overhaul, which will see the introduction of T Levels – technical equivalents to A Levels – from 2020.

Further Institutes are planned for London, the Midlands, Milton Keynes, Exeter, Lincoln, Swindon, Weston-super-Mare and York.

New College Durham
For more information on the Government’s Institute of Technology scheme, visit


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