It’s fair to say that Redcar and Cleveland College has undergone something of a transformation in recent years.
Re-establishing its place at the heart of the community, it aims to bring skills and opportunities to the area that will benefit those on its doorstep.
No surprise, then, that faced with the unprecedented challenges of lockdown, the team seized the opportunity to up their game yet again.
The result is a quarter of a million pound investment in refreshed engineering facilities at the college, at a time when demand for highly skilled workers in Redcar and Cleveland, and indeed the wider Tees Valley, is expected to surge.
“Our aim is to ensure in Redcar we are equipped locally to train people with the technical skills required to meet the needs that developments like Teesworks are bringing to the area,” said college principal Jason Faulkner.
He explains that this means not only teaching the skills and the knowledge of a trade, but also giving students and learners the behaviours and competencies needed to do the jobs right.
In March this year the college set about its mission to prepare young people and adults to deliver their trade in a real work setting with the launch of its outdoor industrial training rig.
This brings with it increased local training in the likes of decommissioning, job competencies, confined spaces and working at heights, as well as rope access, working in partnership with Total Solutions.
“It’s about ensuring people are not only competent in the theoretical knowledge but also demonstrating that they are able to deliver those skills in a practical environment, whether that be working in a tight space or dangling from a height,” said Jason.
By working directly with employers, the college is committed to leading from the front, not just with traditional engineering skills, but also looking to renewable energies and hydrogen technology as well as onshore and offshore wind.
“It is part of our role as the local college to educate our communities and help them to understand the emerging technologies and sectors,” said Jason.
“Here in the Tees Valley we are working towards a cleaner, greener economy and we believe the moves we are making at the college, working closely with industry experts, employers and the local and combined authorities, will support such agendas.”
Investment in a refurbished engineering hub at the college includes refreshed resources, industry standard machinery, tools and equipment, the addition of PPE and material testing rooms, all embedded in a culture of health and safety.
This is in addition to a further investment in its higher education engineering facilities over the last 12 months, including bespoke programmable logic controller (PLC) units and SCADA systems, a hydraulics and pneumatics training room, an advanced manufacturing production system assembly cell, an updated Computer Aided Design (CAD) room, new process automation and robotic equipment.
Jason said: “It’s about creating a more industrial feel and getting all of our students practised in the skills, competencies and behaviours that would be expected of them in the working environment.
“The college has a long history of delivering higher level qualifications in mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering.
“The investments we have made will allow us to continue to develop those higher level skills as well as meeting the needs of our younger learners.”
Also through the industry partnerships and facilities now available, Redcar and Cleveland College has been able to introduce further training opportunities and sector-based work academies for people at all entry levels.
Jason said: “It’s not just higher level engineering opportunities that will be needed, there will also be roles in decontamination and decommissioning.
“We want to ensure Redcar has the capacity to train people not just for the world of engineering but also the wider skills that are required.
“Through our sector-based work academies we can take people with no background in engineering and develop their skills in readiness for the jobs that will be available.
“Working with employers, such as WSG and Northumbrian Water on our industrial cleaning sector-based work academy, we can create bespoke courses that are structured in a way that provides skills for real jobs. These are courses created by employers for employers.”
Welcoming the college investment, Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “It is essential that our young people don’t get left behind as we recover from the impact of the coronavirus.
“We have already created hundreds of jobs on the Teesworks site and over the coming months, as part of my plan for jobs, we will be creating hundreds more, and we need to make sure our young people have the skills they need to take these jobs, which is why these new facilities are so crucial.
“By equipping our young people with the skills they need now, they can take advantage of the countless opportunities we are creating and start out on the path to a successful career, which means more money in their pockets for themselves and their families.
“With these new facilities alongside our new Teesworks skills academy, which we are setting up to train local people with the skills they need to take advantage of these jobs, we have a truly exciting and unique opportunity to shape our region’s workforce and improve people’s lives for generations to come.”
College principal Jason added: “As a college this is what we should be doing. It is about being responsive and demand-led.
“Our young people and adult learners will not just be qualified for work, they will be ready.”
Find out more at cleveland.ac.uk.