Trainee nursing associates can experience life on a working ward in simulation suites set up at a new skills centre.

The Centre for Professional and Executive Development (CPED) was launched at Teesside University’s Darlington campus on Wednesday.

The centre has been established in the hope of helping the Tees Valley meet demand for skilled jobs.

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It is estimated that between now and 2024, more than half of the 133,000 new jobs projected for the area will require a level four qualification at least.

Employment figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills show that the majority of the new jobs are likely to be within managerial, professional and technical fields.

A range of “research-informed continuing professional development” courses and programmed will be offered at the new centre, with health being the first major discipline to be launched at the site.

A suite of skills labs replicate the look and feel of hospital and physiotherapy wards to allow NHS workers to train in a simulated clinical environment.

Health courses at the centre include a health (assistant practitioner) higher apprenticeship and a nursing associate foundation degree.

Sue Blackburn, the lead nurse for education and development for the Gateshead NHS Foundation Trust, said her students were looking forward to utilising the new facilities.

She added: “The suites are absolutely fabulous, they seem versatile and they mean that students can access a ward-like environment.

“It allows for real simulation, which is better than staying in the classroom trying to visualise how it is going to be, they will learn a lot in such an environment.”

The centre will also host a national pilot scheme that mixes classroom teaching with work placement, as well as a range of two-day courses delivered by Teesside University’s business school.

Programmes for the digital, creative and STEM sectors are planned for later in the year.

Marion Grieves, dean of the university’s School of Health & Social Care, said: “This purpose built state-of-the-art facility will provide our students with the opportunity to develop their clinical skills using the latest technology and equipment in a dedicated learning environment.

“The Clinical Skills Suite is pivotal to the delivery of the new and exciting Nursing Associate programme delivered in partnership with Health Education England in the North East and Health Care Providers from across the region.”