Employers and schools are to team up to help tackle the skills gap.
The initiative will help prepare pupils for future careers after attendees at the Bringing Education and Industry Together seminar recognised there was a gap between the classroom and workplace.
In the summer, 350 pupils from Blyth’s primary schools visited the Port and the Blyth Tall Ship project to learn about the town’s nautical history and future.
They took part in challenges which tested their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and discovered the range of jobs at the Port of Blyth and related industries has to offer.
Alison Nicholson, head teacher of Malvin’s Close Primary Academy, said: “The visits were such a success that we were all determined to continue to find ways to raise our children’s aspirations and improve their opportunities and outcomes.”
The seminar – attended by 75 employers, teachers and pupils – was addressed by engineer, businessman, philanthropist and Blyth Spartans chairman Tony Platten.
Mr Platten said there was already a critical shortage of engineers in the UK and businesses and schools had to act now. Even the youngest children had to be encouraged to recognise the long-term benefit of embracing maths ‘not just to pass an exam’.
He added: “If the North East has a skilled workforce companies will invest here.”
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Colin Bassam, the training manager at the Port subsidiary Port Training Services, said the overwhelming success of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta coming to Blyth had helped create a wave of optimism in the town and could provide a lasting legacy.
“We showed that we can be leaders,” he said. The shortage of engineers was a UK-wide problem, but a partnership of local employers and Blyth schools could show the way ahead.”
Plans are already underway to create a STEM Learning Hub through the Port of Blyth Training Services. It would offer learning activities linked to schools’ curriculum. Practical training using industry standard equipment would also be available.