Northumberland College helping build up skills among apprentices

Northumberland College students at the College's dedicated construction academy facility, hoping to find future employment in the industry following apprenticeship training. Picture by Simon Williams/Crest Photography
Northumberland College students at the College's dedicated construction academy facility, hoping to find future employment in the industry following apprenticeship training. Picture by Simon Williams/Crest Photography

Work is under way to increase the number of qualified employees in the construction sector.

Northumberland College is working in joint collaboration with regional employers in a bid to buck national figures.

Northumberland College students at the College's dedicated construction academy facility, hoping to find future employment in the industry following apprenticeship training. Picture by Simon Williams/Crest Photography

Northumberland College students at the College's dedicated construction academy facility, hoping to find future employment in the industry following apprenticeship training. Picture by Simon Williams/Crest Photography

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) says around 15,700 new recruits are needed by 2021 to keep up with demand, while other figures show a 26 per cent fall in the number of apprenticeships taken up in the first quarter of 2018.

The college, in partnership with the likes of Bernicia and Taylor Wimpey, is using its purpose-built construction academy to offer state-of-the-art workshop facilities to complement vocational-based training available to 16 to 19-year-old students.

Construction-led apprenticeship courses follow frameworks and standards designed in conjunction with industry requirements and reflect employers’ exact needs.

Opportunities have also been created for students to learn specialist heritage skills.

Paul Richmond, head of the Construction Academy at Northumberland College, said: “Employers, especially those who provide niche construction services, often find themselves struggling to find the right candidates for employment so by giving our learners a complete insight into the industry across all trades, we can reduce the skills gap and offer well-rounded training.

“Our construction academy opened in 2014 and we can provide a full overview, from traditional, highly skilled craftsmanship and long-standing working methods to use of modern techniques, the latest technologies and new equipment.

“For areas like Northumberland, where construction could include farm or agricultural-based projects in more rural areas, this is definitely an added bonus and a boost to the local economy through the greater employment opportunities.”

Courses are delivered by industry professionals in realistic workshop environments and range from entry level to advanced level 3.

They include joinery, carpentry, tiling, plumbing, painting and decorating and property maintenance, with other, more unique, courses including building crafts, textile floor covering and block paving.

Work placements are also offered to full-time students.

Paul added: “We are at the forefront of learning provision.”