Partnership to bridge skills gap in offshore industry

A new partnership is aiming to open up major career opportunities for young people.

By David Sedgwick
Friday, 15 March, 2019, 17:44
Paul Parry, business development of Port Training Services; Martin Lawlor, chief executive at Port of Blyth; Marc McPake, director of business partnerships at Newcastle College Group; Jon Ridley, assistant principal at Newcastle College Group.

Newcastle College and Port Training Services (PTS), the Port of Blyth’s award-winning training arm, are joining forces.

They are aiming to deliver training programmes with direct pathways into the offshore energy sector.

Marc McPake, director of business partnerships at Newcastle College, said: “The north east is a UK hub for the energy sector, with many key employers based here.

“With another 27,000 jobs set to be created by 2030, it’s important there are enough skilled people being trained to fill those roles and a partnership between Newcastle College and Port Training Services will ensure that young people living in the region can benefit from those opportunities.”

Port of Blyth chief executive Martin Lawlor said: “This partnership offers excellent outcomes for both offshore energy related businesses based in the region and young people keen to get into an industry with excellent prospects.

“Through the unique opportunity this partnership will provide, students will not only benefit from high quality training, but will also gain access to both real world facilities and employers actively searching for the talented workforce of the future.

“We’re delighted that the team at PTS will be able to utilise their skills and experience directly in an offshore energy training environment.”

Students will be based at the PTS complex in Blyth.

Newcastle College already offers a number of training courses, apprenticeships and degrees for those looking for a career within the industry. Its Energy Academy, a centre of innovation and training for the sector, opened in 2012 and has trained more than 1,200 technicians and engineers from its location in Wallsend.

The partnership will now extend that further into the region, combining the technical expertise of the academy with the industry insight and working environment of Port Training Services to develop highly vocational offshore, marine, subsea and port related training.

Marc added: “Blyth is a key area for offshore employers and with Port Training Services and Port of Blyth, known as one of the UK’s leading offshore energy support bases, coming on board with the college, more people will now have access to skills training normally only available in the centre of Newcastle.

“Our vision with this partnership is to create a significant route into employment in an important sector for the north east.”

Students will benefit from both PTS’ first class teaching accommodation and the real working facilities of the Port of Blyth, including a fully functional wind turbine nacelle and fully erected wind turbine training asset, to be completed in the summer.

Students will attend the college’s Energy Academy, where they will learn from expert teaching staff and have access to specialist equipment, such as the world’s most advanced immersive Hybrid Reality (iHR) system for offshore wind training.

With the first intake of students expected in September, two initial programmes are being created.

Marc said: “Our partnership aligns itself to the strategic priorities of both the North East LEP, particularly its current focus on the growth of the energy sector and the education and training to provide the skills required by the industry, and the North of Tyne devolution arrangement.

“Collaboration with employers is at the centre of everything we do, that’s why the college was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for vocational further and higher education in 2018.

“Our partnership with PTS is a fantastic example of how education and business can come together to provide opportunities which will support the future of skilled employment in our region.”