Addressing skills gaps

A senior business leader has spoken out about the importance of industry-aligned education during a graduation ceremony near Ponteland.

Thursday, 18th July 2019, 3:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 4:49 pm
Andrew Hodgson and HNC manufacturing engineering graduate Kris Archer.

Andrew Hodgson addressed more than 400 staff and students from Northumberland College as part of the annual celebration held at its Kirkley Hall campus.

The North East Learning Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) chairman stressed the importance of continued personal and professional development to help improve skills in an ever-changing economy and referred to NELEP’s priorities for helping young people to find career opportunities within the region.

He said: “The shortage of engineers in advanced manufacturing is certainly not a problem unique to the UK, or specifically Northumberland, but one experienced worldwide.

“While there are great examples of engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Elon Musk who may seem out of reach to the majority, if we could start to address sector-specific skills gaps at an earlier stage in the education process by aligning courses more closely with industry needs, we too could nurture the next generation of innovators here in the region and develop the candidates that market-leading local businesses are looking to employ.”

Northumberland College has recently embarked on a comprehensive outreach programme to build and enhance partnerships in a bid to better understand the skills needs and demands of local businesses.

Working together with organisations from across the advanced manufacturing, healthcare, digital and agricultural sectors, it is in the process of actively supporting its corporate partners’ plans for the future through the co-design and delivery of bespoke vocational courses and apprenticeship schemes.

Nigel Harrett, principal at Northumberland College, said: “There is a very strong manufacturing and engineering sector here in Northumberland and a growing supply chain cluster, especially in niche markets like advanced manufacturing.

“The skills shortages that these companies face must therefore be addressed to meet straightforward supply and demand and future-proof jobs in the region as much as we can.”