Engineering the skills businesses need

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Building the right skills in a workforce is one of the most important ingredients for a business’s success.

And Middlesbrough College’s Higher Education offering – including HNC and HND courses – is designed with both learners and businesses in mind.

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Diplomas (HNDs) in Engineering are vocationally orientated qualifications specifically designed to provide practical, industry-related skills to both college leavers and those already working in a job who require new skills.

Typically, learners follow a three-year trajectory – starting with a one-year HNC course, moving to HND and then finally on to BEng Hons courses, awarded by the Open University.

So, how can these specialist Higher Education courses engineer the skills your business needs to increase productivity, improve competencies and futureproof your workforce?

Tailor training to suit your business

HNCs offer great value to employers and employees alike through the provision of vocationally focused skills training which is specific to a particular career.

Courses are developed in consultation with businesses across the region, meaning lessons reflect real employer needs.

As well as classroom-based theory lessons, learners also spend time in the college’s £20m STEM Centre where they are trained on real industry equipment.

Northern Skills Group (NSG), the college’s training and apprenticeship arm, works with more than 2,000 employers in the North-East and Yorkshire to tailor training to meet their needs.

The courses are flexible and fit around your business

Unlike many degrees, HNC and HND courses can be flexible, meaning less impact on day-to-day business operations.

One Teesside business working with Middlesbrough College to harness local talent is Middlesbrough-based Labman Automation.

Labman manufactures customised robotic solutions for industrial, medical and laboratory applications – and with a demanding clientele, new recruits need to hit the ground running.

Through its partnership with Northern Skills Group, Labman recruits a cohort of apprentices from the college every year who then progress onto HNC and HND courses – with many also going on to study top-up degrees through the college’s partnership with the Open University.

Labman’s Sarah Bright praised the flexibility and ease of the college’s Higher Education courses for the success of its programme.

She said: “For many of the people we recruit, the university route isn’t for them – they prefer to be hands-on and earn alongside their studies.

“Apprentices are at the heart of our businesses and through HNC and HND courses they can forge long and successful careers with Labman and build the skills our business needs.

“It’s a great balance between higher education and on-the-job learning – both really complement each other – and for us, it really is the best route for upskilling our staff and building that pipeline of future skills.”

Sarah is calling on other employers to take advantage of higher education training through Middlesbrough College.

“We have a great relationship with the college and its tutors – they’re so helpful and make everything easy for us. We have definitely reaped the rewards.”

Help is on hand

Whether it’s guidance on how to tackle training staff, help in securing funding or advice on navigating the law, Northern Skills Group can lead the way.

Steph Coleman, executive director of Business & Partnerships at Northern Skills Group, said: “Through our extensive network of businesses, we understand the pain points businesses face in building a skilled workforce – which is why we work so closely to break down those barriers.

“Our expert trainers, most of whom come from industry backgrounds, use some of the best facilities in the country in which to give learners the skills that employers demand.”

Northern Skills Group is keen to meet with businesses across the region and find out what their training challenges are and how it and Middlesbrough College can offer support.

For an informal chat, call 03453 40 40 40 or email


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