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Great Reasons to do business in the North East: Our leading education providers with Gateshead College


Nadine Hudspeth, Director of Marketing at Gateshead College kicks off our February Great Reason to do business in the NE with a blog post on our leading education sector, and our collaborative work with the business community.

Access to talent is right up there with the top reasons to choose somewhere to set up or grow a business.

Those of us who live here know that North East people have a reputation for resilience, hard graft, friendliness and an ability to adapt to shifts in the regional economy that mean job opportunities today are likely to be very different tomorrow - this has never been truer as we emerge from the pandemic.

Equally the North East is a great place to live and this should help us attract talent but even that isn’t essential now that we have discovered the possibilities remote working offers; you can study and work nationally and internationally from your dining room if that is what you choose. This change in work and study patterns, and the speed with which we’ve embraced them, bring really positive opportunities for the future.

We can be rightly proud of the impressive network of education and skills providers in the region which support the development of the pipeline of talent every business relies upon offering a vast range of qualifications and specialisms. Our universities have global reputations for ground breaking research and play a key role in enabling innovation and entrepreneurship. They’re also trailblazers for higher skills programmes in many areas including health sciences, nursing and digital. Equally their track record in widening participation has never been more crucial putting us in a prime position to make sure that everyone has opportunities to pursue their aspirations for a great career.

My heart is in further education as you’d expect, and the launch of the FE Skills and Jobs White Paper last week rightly shines a light on the essential role of colleges and value of technical education. The report’s recommendations put employers firmly in the driving seat in shaping regional skills plans with Chambers of Commerce playing a pivotal role.

Developing curriculum to meet actual skills needs and preparing people for jobs has long been at the core of our strategy at Gateshead College where ‘education with employment edge’ has been our ethos for many years. Talent in the workplace is not just about the qualification, and our focus on wider personal skills development and character is equally as crucial with employers needing employees with a range of qualities and skills.

There’s countless examples of great collaborations between colleges and industry across our region, where working together to customise really high quality provision that provides pathways into jobs is the norm. The facilities we have access too are also first class with specialist centres for digital and tech, rail, marine, engineering, healthcare and more. And, given our Chamber’s strong relationship with providers and members, we are well placed to be amongst the first to pilot these recommendations and as a result see even greater collaboration which will not only help us fill skills gaps but spot opportunities that will ensure North East businesses prosper as we emerge from Covid-19.

The pandemic’s impact on some of our key sectors and unemployment for local people also gives us an opportunity to reinvent and retrain. Let’s all throw our weight behind the Chamber’s campaign to drive a better funding deal for adults and help influence the government’s promise of a Lifetime Skills Guarantee to make sure it is something which will enable all adults to secure a job and enable businesses to benefit from access to this great pool of talent.

And in the North East we recognise the importance of raising the aspirations of our young people. Making sure that they have access to really high quality and inspirational careers advice and guidance, to good role models, mentors and opportunities, and an awareness of what is possible if they work hard. I know we will continue to work together to make sure they don’t get left behind and programmes such as North East Ambition, Work Inspiration Gateshead and NE1 Can, amongst many others, alongside the work our business community does to engage young people, all have the potential to make a positive difference making sure the North East is the very best place to grow, attract and retain talent and a great place to do business.