NCG is one of the UK’s leading college groups. Made up of seven colleges that are supported by a wide Professional Services team, NCG delivers education and training to thousands of learners, apprentices and employers nationwide.
NCG's mission is to enable social mobility and economic prosperity through exceptional education. Through ambitious teaching, innovative courses and outstanding learning environments, NCG and all of its colleges aim to inspire excellence, spark curiosity and make a real impact on its learners and communities.
WD Close and Newcastle College have been working together since 2021 to produce skilled workers for the welding and fabrication sector.
Beginning as a North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) Anchor Collective, WD Close and Newcastle College have been working together since 2021 to produce skilled workers for the welding and fabrication sector.
As the largest provider of further education in the North of Tyne area, Newcastle College is committed to developing the skills and talents of its students to succeed in modern enterprise and make a positive contribution to the prosperity of the North East.
Innovative partnerships with local industry leaders, such as fabrication specialist WD Close, enable Newcastle College to align its curriculum and invest in skills in areas of local strategic importance, including green energy and the energy engineering supply chain, supporting the local economy and optimising employment prospects for learners.
Apprenticeships in Welding and Fabrication are delivered in partnership at Newcastle College’s award-winning Energy Academy, alongside its programme of Offshore Renewable Energy qualifications, where learners are supported by world-class facilities, industry experienced teaching, work experience placements and guest lectures and projects from industry (including from WD Close).
So far, more than 40 apprentices have joined WD Close through the partnership, which is committed to training over 100 apprentices over the next 5 years. In June 2022, the partnership’s first female apprentice Courtney Newton was named The Welding Institute’s Apprentice of the Year 2022.
In addition, WD Close has recruited six graduates from Newcastle College University Centre’s energy and engineering degrees, where they are working as part of a team leading on ground-breaking projects for the region.
After just one year, the WD Close and Newcastle College partnership is successfully growing a skilled workforce which is aligned to the North East’s priority energy and engineering sectors.
Commenting on the partnership, Kelly Scott, Operations Director at WD Close said: “Newcastle College is brilliant at listening to employers, co-creating with them and developing a talented workforce to meet their needs. As an employer, my business needs are being supported, and Newcastle College welcomes my feedback on course development. This ensures that learners develop the knowledge and skills needed for employment within my organisation and beyond.”
Alan Goundry, Head of Engineering and the Energy Academy at Newcastle College, added: “Relationships with employers and industry leaders are central to the development of our curriculum here at Newcastle College, ensuring that our learners are equipped with the skills and experience that employers across our region really need.
“We’re especially delighted to be working in partnership with WD Close, a forward-thinking organisation who have made an incredible commitment to support our learners and graduates in the coming years. I am looking forward to continuing our work together and building on the success of our first year, developing a skilled workforce to support the growth of a thriving local industry.”
Investment into facilities at Newcastle College has been praised by MP Chi Onwurah, as she was welcomed for a tour of its upgraded STEM facilities earlier this month.
Ms Onwurah, Shadow Minister for Digital, Science and Technology, who has an extensive background in engineering, telecoms, and software development, spent time in the College’s engineering department before visiting the newly opened £180,000 Digital Hub.
She commented: “It’s encouraging to see that the facilities at Newcastle College have not only improved with evident investment but have been set up in a way that will support the region’s business objectives and support people into meaningful employment. This is a fantastic opportunity for the College to contribute to closing skills gaps across the region. I welcome their commitment to strive for gender balance across its STEM provision, though there is still a lot of work to be done.”
Chi continued: “Our region is in a prime position to level up in digital and engineering and Newcastle College has ensured that it’s part of that agenda by helping students to develop skills that will be needed now, and in the future. What is great to see is that the College still values the traditional learning methods and techniques in engineering, alongside the use of more advanced technology to help develop well rounded and skilled people who are digitally enabled. I’m looking forward to seeing graduates from Newcastle College benefit from this investment and make a real impact in our region. I can see from the facilities and wider strategy that the College is committed to making important links with key industry partnerships with local employers”
The tour of the facilities follows the launch of Newcastle College’s Strategy to 2030 earlier this year, which includes an aim to become the best vocational education provider of STEM in the UK and investment of over £650,000 into STEM facilities, including the Digital Hub.
The Digital Hub forms part of the College’s Synergy Hub, which brings together an Apprenticeships Hub, The Enterprise Hub and Solutions for Business and curriculum design departments. It will support Newcastle College’s target to produce 100 digital graduates annually by 2025 to support the local digital cluster.
This year, the College has welcomed 400 students on digital courses across all provision and has recently launched Go Reboot Plus in partnership with Sunderland Software City, a free-to-access digital training programme for unemployed adults living in North Tyneside.
Scott Bullock, Principal at Newcastle College said: “STEM is a huge part of our wider 10-year Strategy as we know it not only offers lots of opportunities for our students but will support our region to continue to grow in sectors such as digital and engineering.
“To gain support from Ms Onwurah, as a champion of business and education within the North East, means a great deal. We’ve put a huge amount of work and investment into the 10-year Strategy and truly believe it has the potential to leave a lasting impact on the North East business landscape by producing confident, high-quality graduates and positive employer links. Our focus now will be to build on that progress, with particular focus on addressing the gender balance within STEM that has been rightly highlighted by the Minister. This is a recognised issue across the sector and as educators it is our role to encourage and provide opportunities for everybody. We are more than ready to meet that challenge.”
Professor Brian Cox CBE Launches Science Summer School at West Lancashire College
NCG’s West Lancashire College virtually welcomed Professor Brian Cox this year, as he joined them online to officially open its brand-new School of Science.
Located on the College’s main Skelmersdale campus, the School of Science is a state-of-the-art centre that will support the delivery of engineering, the school of medicine programme, access to medical science and applied science programmes.
The £1.3 million centre has been funded by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal Programme and offers students access to specialist equipment and technology, housing a fully equipped laboratory, preparation room and engineering suite alongside an external teaching space.
The new hi-tech centre supports Skelmersdale’s vision of becoming the best place in Britain for science and engineering and aims to inspire young people to pursue careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) and become the next generation of Britain’s scientists and engineers.
Professor Cox opened the centre as part of the Skelmersdale Science Summer School event, a national initiative he co-founded with Lord Andrew Mawson. The event brought together school pupils and students from across West Lancashire as they attended inspirational talks with Professor Cox, Lord Robert Winston and other high-profile guest speakers, and took part in a range of science and engineering activities to explore career opportunities available to them.
Professor Cox said: “I am delighted to open the new School of Science at West Lancashire College in today’s virtual ceremony.
“This is an important step towards realising Skelmersdale’s vision of becoming the best place in Britain for science and engineering.”
The day culminated in a virtual evening reception, where employers from across the globe came together online to hear Professor Cox and other special guests including astronaut Tim Peake, speak about how to help create a lasting legacy of excellence in STEAM, to inspire future generations and to “put Skelmersdale on the map to be the best place for science and engineering in the world.”
Denise Williamson, Principal of West Lancashire College said: “We are delighted to host the first Science Summer School in the North West and we look forward to working with our employer partners to promote the fabulous STEAM opportunities that we have in our region.”