A RAPIDLY expanding charity has agreed a long-term partnership with one of the North-East’s leading colleges to help in a drive to recruit more staff.

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) is creating around 250 jobs across the region as demand grows for its services.

The Society has vacancies for specialist teaching assistants and care staff as it extends its reach across the North-East.

The expansion of services includes the opening last September of a new school, The Mackenzie Thorpe Centre at South Bank, Middlesbrough, and plans are due to be announced soon for another new school on Teesside.

More recruits are also needed in Sunderland, and at the New Warlands Farm training centre at Burnhope, County Durham.

The Society has now announced a partnership with Derwentside College, at Consett, to help fill the vacancies through a series of specialist academies.

It follows the success of a pilot last summer, with the college running a bespoke academy in education, which led to NEAS being able to recruit a significant number of staff.

The college – rated the number one college in the North East for both Student and Employer Satisfaction by Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) – has now launched online three-week academies for care assistants and programme support workers for NEAS.

Every learner, who successfully completes the academy, will be guaranteed an interview for one of the roles.

Chris Todd,Principal and CEO at the college, said: “Derwentside College has successfully delivered recruitment academies to some of the region’s largest employers for several years now.

“We are delighted to be working alongside NEAS to create bespoke academies tailored to their recruitment needs. The values and ethos of the North East Autism Society align with the college’s values perfectly, and our academies not only support people into meaningful employment but affect real change in the lives of our learners.”

Lisa Waller, Head of Business Development said: “The courses have been designed with the needs of the Society in mind, and we recruit for attitude. We can provide learners with the required skills and teach knowledge, but having the right attitude is key. My team and I put significant effort into ensuring all of our academies meet with the precise requirements of our employers.”

NEAS chief executive John Phillipson said: “There is a national shortage of workers in the care sector and what we are trying to do with this partnership at Derwentside College is to remove the barriers from those who may be interested in joining us.

“Some of our best people don’t have formal qualifications but they come with enthusiasm, life experience, and personal qualities that can be an asset to us as we grow.

“Derwentside College has a great track record, and the feedback we’ve had from participants has been exceptional. Those who were nervous initially, and unsure about whether they would be suitable, have been given the confidence to take the next step.”

New recruits build on their college training once they join NEAS and Mr Phillipson said he believed the partnership would be long-term as the charity continues its ambitious expansion programme over the next 18 months.