September 1, 2018
Located in the heart of the city, community is at the core of Newcastle College.
Its purpose is to provide learning opportunities for everyone, regardless of their existing skills or experience, and help everyone reach their full potential and gain employment. Courses are on offer from entry level to masters degrees, as well as apprenticeships and professional training – all with the goal of ensuring the North East workforce has the right skills.
Newcastle College places a big emphasis on reaching out to the local community to try and engage more local people in the learning opportunities available to them.
Scott Bullock, vice principal of Newcastle College, says: “As a skills provider, we are responsible for helping as many people as possible access education and training opportunities. There are many skills gaps in the region which we address through our vocational courses, but there is also an issue of unemployment here, which we want to help combat.
“There are many reasons why people don’t return to education but we provide courses for everybody and it’s important that we reach out to local people and let them know we are here and what opportunities are available to them.”
With the help of the sports industry, Newcastle College has been able to reach more people and offer sports courses to young people, help upskill members of the sports community and take part in community initiatives.
In partnership with Newcastle Falcons, it offers the Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability Hitz Programme which combines sports training, life skills and work experience to re-engage young people not in education, training or employment and develop their skills for a future in sport or public services.
Scott explains: “Sport is an excellent gateway to education because it helps to develop transferrable skills such as teamwork and communication. It builds confidence, motivation and encourages people to think about their own potential.
“Our goal is to help people of all abilities and backgrounds back into education and sport is the perfect way for us to reach them.”
It is this premise which underlines the college’s relationship with Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation, which will come to fruition later this year when the brand new Eagles Community Arena opens to the public.
The state-of-the-art venue will not only provide a home for Britain’s most successful basketball team, but will provide facilities for the college’s sports students to use and house the Newcastle Eagles Community Foundation. The arena will be a central place for a range of sports clubs and community initiatives, helping people of all ages and abilities access opportunities to learn new skills.
“The foundation shares our goal of widening participation in education through sport and community initiatives,” continues Scott. “The development will bring many benefits to our current students, but will also help us to reach out to the local community and provide them with opportunities to participate in sport and education.”
The biggest sporting relationship Newcastle College has nurtured is with Newcastle United Foundation, encompassing workforce training and apprenticeships, while continuing to benefit current students and the wider community.
The relationship began when the college delivered management training to staff working within the foundation and was followed by a request to create a bespoke business administration course for its finance department.
It’s an area in which the college specialises – working with companies to identify training needs and creating a tailored end-to-end solution, centred around the individual requirements of the business, whether that is through professional accreditation, part-time degrees or apprenticeships.
“Upskilling and maintaining training is important to any business, to ensure it keeps up to date with an ever-changing landscape and emerging skills gaps,” says Scott.
“The great thing about our employer training and apprenticeship programmes is that they are a solution which benefits the business, but provides a learning opportunity to individuals in that business which they may not have had otherwise. That is all part of our vision to provide learning opportunities to everybody.”
Since then, the relationship has grown into what it is today, with the college currently supporting three apprentices within the company and plans to expand the programme to other areas of the foundation and the football club.
Newcastle United Foundation also helps the college to deliver a Level 3 sports coaching qualification. In a collaborative approach, the college provides a study programme while the foundation delivers professional training, industry required certificates and a guaranteed job interview with the business, to anyone who successfully completes the course.
Scott continues: “Our education programmes are all highly vocational and offer students opportunities to work directly with employers, whether that be through work experience or project work.
“We often write and deliver courses in collaboration with employers to ensure students are learning the right skills and our relationships with employers are vital to the success of our students.
“This programme is even more unique because the majority of the course takes place with the foundation and that is such a huge opportunity for students – they get on-the-job training from the best in the region and are able to make connections and gain job opportunities.
“Not only that, but the work that the foundation does through sports reflects our own passion for engaging the local community in education and employment. Our students are given the chance to be directly involved with those projects which is fantastic.”
Steve Beharall, operations manager at Newcastle United Foundation, adds: “We are really proud of our pioneering partnership with Newcastle College and the impact Apprentice Community Coaches are having within our organisation and in the wider community. Zoe and Charlie have become much valued members of our team and we’re really pleased with how our new apprentice, Connor, is already playing an important role in community engagement.
“Our relationship with Newcastle College continues to develop as new opportunities arise and it is this collaborative approach that helps us maximise opportunities for young people in our region.”
The relationships fostered between Newcastle College and employer partners such as Newcastle United Foundation are key to everything the college offers.
Scott explains: “They shape our curriculum and all of the opportunities that we are able to offer students.
“Our sports programmes in particular offer so many opportunities to everyone involved and it is definitely an area where education and the community can come together. We look forward to bridging even more gaps between education, skills and the community together with our sporting partners.”