New £2m training centre aims to help offshore industry

Port of Blyth's Blyth Education and Community Hub (BEACH) project.
Port of Blyth's Blyth Education and Community Hub (BEACH) project.

A new £2million training centre is aiming to help strengthen Blyth’s position in the offshore energy market.

The Port of Blyth has created the centre to help prepare the UK port services, offshore and renewable workforces of the future.

The second phase of a development known as the Blyth Education and Community Hub (BEACH) will open next week as partners in the scheme, business leaders and representatives from local government will welcome the Duchess of Northumberland to officially open the buildings.

An innovative partnership with Port Training Services, Newcastle University, Northumberland College and other regional partners will see the hub host a state-of-the-art research centre and one of the UK’s only renewable energy related training course as well as providing significant opportunities for port focused apprenticeships and water sports.

The centre will enable Port of Blyth’s training subsidiary Port Training Services to develop its offering of NVQs and plant training while enhancing its delivery of apprenticeships and community engagement.

Newcastle University’s Emerson Cavitation Tunnel Laboratory, at the centre, will provide a world class environment for the study of propulsion, water turbine, coating technology, ice research and numerous other niche areas of research.

Northumberland College’s wind turbine technician training facility is to be backed and certificated by international renewable energy training and certification body BZEE.

This latest phase of the hub has attracted significant funding from the Coastal Communities Fund, North East LEP and Sport England, whilst all the partners have contributed significantly to the total budget for the scheme.

Martin Lawlor, chief executive of Port of Blyth, said: “We’re delighted to be opening phase two on the back of a record year at the Port. The significant benefits of the project reflect the commitment that the Port and all partners in the development have to training, research and opportunities for the community.”

Phase one of the Blyth Education and Community Hub, which opened in 2014, delivered a maritime heritage centre, an Engineering and Marine Science base for Newcastle University as well as a new facility for the training and community outreach charity Blyth Tall Ship and striking home for the Blyth Boathouse restaurant.

Investment in phases 1 and 2 totals £3.5m.