Northern Skills Group, a leading provider of apprenticeships, retraining and employer-led training in the north of England, is celebrating a very successful first year.
The Group, created by Middlesbrough College following its acquisition of the North East Chamber of Commerce’s apprenticeship training business and subsequent merger with the college’s employer-facing, training arm now operates across the North of England with bases in Durham, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Sunderland and York.
The group works with more than 2,000 employers in the region, training over 2,700 apprentices following more than 100 different pathways – including but not limited to accountancy, customer service, dentistry, engineering, health and care, information and communications technology, leadership and management, and transport operations.
Clients include owner-managed businesses, the NHS and multi-nationals such as British Steel.
A Middlesbrough-based businesswoman turned to Northern Skills Group to recruit apprentices for her firm. Joanne Cotton, who runs Ambrose & Co Accounting Solutions, embarked on a similar route after realising A-levels and university weren’t for her, despite getting As and A*s at GCSE.
She opted for an Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) apprenticeship through Northern Skills Group which led to starting her own business and taking on her own apprentices.
Northern Skills Group lead Peter Wilson said: “Joanne’s story is an inspiration to all young people, and just goes to show how an apprenticeship can be a fantastic springboard for an exciting career.”
British Steel is also seeing the benefits of working with Northern Skills Group. It joined forces with the training arm to find and train 12 new apprentice steelworkers.
British Steel sponsored the apprentices, who were employed by Northern Skills Group, with the aim of them joining the manufacturer on a permanent basis once their training ended.
Paul Martin, managing director at British Steel, said: “We have always been committed to apprentices and ensuring our people have the very best training, and this is another example of how we are investing in the future.”
Meanwhile, a partnership between Northern Skills Group and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust led to apprentices being trained at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.
Mark Sexton, Arran Scott and Lydia Newton are on a Level 2 Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) programme and spend half a day each week at Northern Skills Group’s base at Middlesbrough College.
Once their apprenticeships finish, they have the opportunity to join the Trust on a full-time basis as finance assistants.
Faye Revely, financial services manager at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Many of our senior management team are former apprentices and it remains a fantastic way into careers with the NHS.”
So what next for the Northern Skills Group? The business continues to grow as it continues to work alongside employers to design and deliver workforce development solutions designed to improve business productivity and support the region’s economic competitiveness.
Northern Skills Group is going in the right direction to achieve that and the focus for the second year will be to continue on that path. By its second anniversary, it’s likely there will be more to celebrate.