Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall campus received high praise from a Government minister during his visit last Thursday.
Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education, was invited to see what it has to offer by Guy Opperman, MP for the Hexham constituency.
He met with Marcus Clinton, principal and chief executive of Northumberland College, Lynn Tompkins, vice chair at the college, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, to discuss apprenticeships.
During his tour of the campus, he saw the new facilities that have been created through recent investment.
Mr Boles said: “It was great to visit the Kirkley Hall campus and see first-hand how Northumberland College is embracing an entrepreneurial approach that not only benefits students with career focussed educational pathways, but also the community through facilities.”
He and Mr Opperman each planted trees within a new apprenticeship garden, where they met horticulture apprentices. They also spoke to animal care apprentices working within the college’s Zoological Gardens.
“The entrepreneurial vision of Northumberland College is such that its breadth of facilities is unmatched,” said Mr Opperman.
“Kirkley Hall is genuinely unique so it was brilliant to bring the skills minister to see the diversity on offer in terms of training, the special nature of the campus and witness the progress made with hundreds more students.”
Northumberland College’s dedicated business training solutions team manages its training relationships with employers and provides advice to businesses seeking to recruit apprentices.
This includes helping employers to access Government grant funding of up to £1,500 per apprentice.
Mr Clinton said: “We offer over 40 apprenticeships within industries as diverse as equine, horticulture, engineering and hairdressing.
“We work with more than 700 businesses across the region and the Kirkley Hall campus has achieved growth in the number of 16 to 18 year-old students of 54 per cent since 2010 and growth of more than 300 per cent for the number of students on apprenticeships over the same period.
“Across Northumberland College, we are passionate about developing employability skills and an income diversification agenda via real working environments allows us to do this. It is imperative students are put under real pressure, having to deliver so they develop the resilience, confidence and standards employers expect.
“It was good to demonstrate that to the minister through showing him Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens, which opened in 2011 and now typically receives over 70,000 visitors per year.”
For more information about the range of apprenticeships available at the college, visit www.northumberland.ac.uk