As the pace of change in Sunderland continues to increase, two major projects are set to provide the power and skills the city needs.

The new Hylton Castle substation being built on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park will connect new gigafactories and a £2.56m partnership project led by the University of Sunderland will transform workforce skills.

The 275kV Hylton Castle substation will provide a new grid connection for Nissan, AESC UK and Sunderland City Council’s ambitious EV36Zero electric vehicle hub at IAMP, which brings together EV manufacture, battery production and a renewable energy microgrid.

National Grid recently re-routed a kilometre-long stretch of pylons and overhead power line to run around the IAMP’s future perimeter, freeing up land for work on the substation and gigafactories to progress on schedule. Once completed and energised in 2026, the Hylton Castle substation will use three 100-tonne supergrid transformers and advanced control systems.

Omexom and Taylor Woodrow (OTW) joint venture – part of the VINCI group – has been appointed to carry out the substation works, with site surveys already underway and construction activity due to start in June.

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IAMP spans 150 hectares of land across both Sunderland and South Tyneside local authority areas, and is backed with £42m from the UK government through the Local Growth Fund and North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Alice Delahunty, president of National Grid Electricity Transmission, said: “Plugging the site directly into our transmission network – the electricity superhighway that spans England and Wales – will deliver it a firm supply of power 24/7, and enable its operations that will support jobs and prosperity in the area for years to come.”

Patrick Melia, chief executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “The creation of Nissan’s EV36Zero Hub will create and sustain many thousands of jobs for years to come, so this is a transformation project that is powered by partnership working. We’re pleased to see this work move forward.”

Jonathan Tew, chief executive of South Tyneside Council, said: “IAMP is a vitally important project which will support the growth of the UK manufacturing sector, this new grid connection will unlock enormous potential thanks to collaboration with National Grid and our colleagues at Sunderland City Council.”

Across the city, a £2.56m partnership project will offer courses and training range from digital and office-based skills to trading, manufacturing or industrial courses for mechanics, electrical engineering, hydraulics, milling and turning, and welding. They are being delivered by 12 providers with a range of different specialist skills including Sunderland College, TDR Training and Sunderland Software City.

The SSIP is funded from the city’s allocation of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) which is being managed by Sunderland City Council to deliver funds from the UK Government into a range of projects across the city.

There are more than 100 SSIP courses available, based on the different needs of businesses and their employees from day-long starter courses to advanced accredited diplomas and all are free.

Sunderland City Council’s Cabinet Member for Corporate Services and Equalities, Councillor Alison Smith said: "Our UK Shared Prosperity Fund programme is opening up a wide range of opportunities for businesses and residents across the city.

"Today’s workplace and the pace of change means that employers and employees have to continually update their skills. The partnership between the University of Sunderland and the training providers involved in this project will help so many people to update skills or learn new ones.”

The Government funded SSIP programme aims to link up with Sunderland businesses and help more than 2,000 workers over the next year. Other UKSPF projects are providing training and support for economically inactive residents, a range of business support activities, as well as cultural, digital and wider investment in communities across the city.

Cllr Smith added: "Successful businesses are key to the ongoing regeneration of our city and people are key to their success.

"It’s fantastic to have these fully funded courses and opportunities for businesses to help realise their growth aspirations and upskill their staff and future workforce."