Engineering centre of excellence could create generations of North-East skilled workers (From The Northern Echo)
For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Plans unveiled for university technical college, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, to train 600 students every year
THE North-East's reputation as a global engineering powerhouse will continue for generations under plans to build the region's first university technical college, The Northern Echo can reveal.
The University of Sunderland wants to open a school in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, in 2015, which will teach up to 600 students every year.
The college, based on 1940s technical schools, will provide a centre of engineering excellence, focusing on longer working days, extended work placements and the core GCSE subjects to improve skills.
Bosses say the college will help plug the North-East's worrying skills gap, with the region expected to lose 8,500 workers to retirement by 2016.
The plans will be submitted to the Department for Education next month, however, it is unclear if the project will include a new purpose-built centre or move into an existing site on Newton Aycliffe Business Park.
The scheme has been backed by Aycliffe-based Hitachi Rail Europe, whose £82m Aycliffe train factory will create 730 North-East jobs and build more than 860 carriages for the Government from 2016, and Gestamp Tallent, who makes chassis for Nissan, Volvo, Ford and Jaguar, at its Aycliffe plant, and wants to create about 320 new regional jobs.
In a report, Professor Dean Holmes, University of Sunderland pro-vice chancellor, Darren Cumner, Hitachi Rail Europe's plant manager, and Gestamp's engineering director, David Land, say the training college could open in September 2015, providing a catalyst for North-East engineering and much-needed skills.
It said: “This is an opportunity to make a major contribution to the region's prosperity and the lives and futures of North-East youngsters.
“It goes back to the technical schools of the 1940s, which were intended to be complementary to grammar and modern schools, though very few were established.
“This area suffers from higher unemployment and youth unemployment but the engineering industry is in very good shape and has been suffering from a skills shortage.
“There is a real need for skilled workers and a new major impetus in education and training to build that workforce and deliver prosperity.
“The idea of a strongly technical education for students that is powerfully linked to the real local economy and skills sector has remained strong.”
The report says the college will take about 150 students in its first year, with pupils as young as 14-years-old offered courses, and bosses hope to start recruiting staff next year.
Under the plans, the college will have a longer working day, with lessons between 8.30am and 5pm and provide extended work placements.
Bosses say it will have a strong focus on maths, English, science and foreign languages, strengthened by an extended engineering curriculum and A-level programmes.
The report said: “The North-East engineering employment sector will grow even stronger, and the arrival of Hitachi Rail Europe adds to what is already a major engineering presence.
“No school or college can guarantee future employment for students.
“However, it will be clear that the major engineering employers will have a huge stake in ensuring that the technical college fulfils its mission of educating, training and empowering skilled young people.”
Hitachi will start building trains in 2016, which will enter service on the Great Western Main Line, between Bristol and south Wales in the same year and begin running on the East Coast Main Line, connecting the North-East to Scotland and London, the following year.
Gestamp Tallent, which was last year pledged £3.75m from a Government flagship cash scheme, wants to create about 320 jobs and safeguard a similar number as well as buying a robot welding assembly to increase production.
Comments are closed on this article.