More than 100 of the North East’s most successful leaders discovered why Middlesbrough College is leading the way in apprenticeship training when they toured its new £20m skills centre.
The event, organised by the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and Middlesbrough College, marked the completion of the impressive new skills centre that delivers world class training in science, technology, engineering and maths and recognised the achievements of current and former apprentice greats.
Mike Matthews, NECC president and managing director of Nifco UK, joined fellow NECC Apprentice Greats – a list of 200 North East leaders, compiled by NECC, who began their successful careers as apprentices – at the multi-million pound training centre as part of the Chamber’s 200th anniversary celebrations.
Pictured (above, left to right) is Matthews with Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive, Trevor Arnold, chair of Middlesbrough College STEM advisory board, Andy Buckworth, STEM executive director, Ian Smith, STEM director, and James Ramsbotham, NECC chief executive.
The STEM Centre boasts a genuine industrial environment and is the only one of its kind in the North East.
Thousands of apprentices will train there, as well as those already working in industry and who want to learn the latest skills and techniques.
Mr Matthews said: “As a region we need to maximise our economic potential and as employers we need to do our best to help tackle youth unemployment.
“The STEM Centre and Middlesbrough College provides outstanding facilities and world class training to help companies do just that.
“We have an obligation to create jobs for young people, and apprenticeships offer a valuable route to employment, they allow young people to earn while they learn.
“Many of the best business brains in the region began their careers as apprentices and we need more companies to take on apprentices.”
Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive, said: “Five years ago Middlesbrough College had fewer than 100 apprentices, this year we will train more than 1,000 across a wide range of disciplines.
“We and our partners firmly believe that STEM education and training has the potential to transform the region’s economic competitiveness.
“At the heart of Middlesbrough College’s strategic plan is a commitment to enhance the region’s economic competitiveness by directly aligning our offer to the skills requirements of employers.
“We are doing this by investing in new employer-led facilities and equipment and through adapting and developing our courses and student experiences to closely match the skills needs in the local economy.”
The centre is already gaining the backing of leading employers.
Bill Scott, CEO of Wilton Group, said: “The newly opened STEM Centre is another jewel in the crown for Middlesbrough College.
“Zoe Lewis and her dedicated team of visionaries have certainly raised the bar in terms of providing a world class training centre giving both apprentices and company employees the ultimate in hands-on industrial experience.
“The state-of-the-art facility is what employers have been longing for and empowers all trainees to be the best that they can be.”
Within days of welcoming its first student in September, the STEM centre – at the entrance to the £100m Middlesbrough College campus – played host to a VIP trip from Oman, organised by UKTI.
The visit demonstrated why Middlesbrough College is one of the UK’s leading providers of engineering skills training and how the college’s close links with local industry means it’s delivering the training that employers need.