Redcar and Cleveland College unveils plans for Clean Energy Education Hub

Redcar and Cleveland College has unveiled exciting plans for the development of its Clean Energy Education Hub.

The hub will be funded primarily by a £2.41m capital injection from the Town Deal Fund, a programme announced by the government supporting economic growth in towns across England, along with additional investment from the Education Training Collective.

Further financial support from the Skills Development Fund will provide a catalyst for the centre to progress its credentials and expertise, supporting the green revolution across the Tees Valley.

And, described by the Minister for Levelling Up, Neil O’Brien, as playing a “crucial role supporting the Tees Valley’s wider green economy”, the facility is on track for spades in the ground by early May.

Redcar and Cleveland College principal, Jason Faulkner, said: “These are exciting times for our region. The Tees Valley is at the forefront of developments in the clean and renewable energy sector.

“Now we want to make sure that the people who live here have the skills, knowledge and expertise to have the best possible chance of directly benefitting from the jobs being created on our doorstep.”

The hub has been further boosted by a donation from bp. It will support the development of the hub and community engagement to raise awareness of opportunities within the clean energy sector among local school children.

Louise Kingham CBE, bp’s UK head of country and senior vice president of Europe, said: “The Clean Energy Education Hub will help equip young people from across Teesside with the skills they need to develop careers in a range of industries that will lead the energy transition. Supporting the programme through our partnership with Redcar and Cleveland College is another sign of our commitment to the local economy and community. With its tightly-clustered heavy industry and proud industrial heritage, Teesside is the perfect place to showcase net zero and the talent we will need to get us there.”

Worth a total investment of almost £3.2m, the Clean Energy Education Hub will deliver training for careers in the clean and renewable energy industry.

Working in collaboration with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and industry leading employers, such as RWE Sofia Windfarms and Northern Gas Networks, the college is ensuring the facility is built to meet real industry skill demands.

College principal Jason added: “Behavioural competence and soft skills are what employers seek in addition to formal qualifications. The Clean Energy Education Hub will provide a skills ready workforce for the future.”

Welcoming the plans, Councillor Mary Lanigan, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council said: “There is a huge opportunity for Redcar and Cleveland to be at the centre of the green energy industry in the future. The development of Teesworks brings the promise of thousands of high quality and well-paid jobs and it is vital that our residents are well prepared to take these opportunities. The Clean Energy Education Hub will provide high class training in the industries of the future and will mean young people in Redcar and Cleveland can receive the kind of training in their own borough which will thoroughly prepare them to move into work.

“We look forward to working with Redcar and Cleveland College to make the Clean Energy Education Hub a huge success.”

In January, a pre-launch event which outlined the strategic plans for the hub, held at Redcar and Cleveland College, saw guest speakers including bp’s senior vice president for Europe and head of country, UK, Louise Kingham CBE, Northern Gas Networks’ HR director Lindsey Filer, RWE Sofia Windfarm’s supply chain manager, Graham Wright, alongside, Mary Lanigan, sharing their views on the vast opportunities ahead for both employers and the local community.

The Clean Energy Education Hub will specialise in clean energy and renewable industry training for both domestic and industrial markets. Delivering training to school leavers, apprentices and adult learners, the hub’s offer will include higher education, commercial and professional courses, and will also respond to employers needs through bespoke employer-led programmes.

Jason said: “Linked to the college building, on Corporation Road, with its own access route and identity, the hub will be approximately 1000 square metres and will provide a practical learning environment which simulates real workspaces to service the domestic and industrial markets. Practising what we preach, the facility will be powered by solar panels and air source heat pump technology.”

Darren Winter, chair of the Redcar Town Deal Board, said of the project: “On behalf of the Town Deal Board, I am delighted funds from the Town Deal are supporting the build of the Clean Energy Education Hub and helping young people in their careers so quickly with a planned opening in early 2023.”

Minister for Levelling Up Neil O’Brien said: “It’s fantastic to see plans unveiled for Redcar and Cleveland College Clean Energy Education Hub.

“Supported by £2.41 million from the Government’s Town Fund, the hub will offer training and educational opportunities for local people in the clean energy sector.

“This will play a crucial role supporting Tees Valley’s wider green economy, which boasts one of the country’s first Freeports, leading the charge in the low carbon sector.”

College group’s award-winning healthy habits reap their own reward

From mindfulness sessions to getting your six to eight glasses of water a day, when it comes to healthy habits, staff at the Education Training Collective (Etc.) are hitting the mark.

The team’s efforts have been recognised with the Better Health at Work Continuing Excellence Award.

Laura Moon

A step up from the Gold they received last year, human resources advisor, Laura Moon, said: “This is fantastic recognition of the work that has been put in, from staff across the group, to help promote healthy habits and wellbeing not just in the workplace but also in the wider community.”

For the college group, which incorporates Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy and Tees Valley Catering, it has meant a whole host of activities aimed at encouraging people to make small healthy changes.

“As a large employer in the Tees Valley, encouraging the health and wellbeing of our staff, is built in to our values and strategies,” said Laura.

Aiming to reach beyond the workplace, she added: “By raising awareness and promoting healthy habits, we hope to help share healthy messages not just with our staff but for these also to extend to family and friends.”

The group has also acted as mentor to a local secondary school in the early stages of the process.

The Better Health at Work Award recognises the efforts of employers in the North-east and Cumbria, addressing health issues within the workplace. There are five levels available, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Continuing Excellence and Maintaining Excellence. Those that reach the highest level can go on to achieve Ambassador Status.

Over the last 12 months Etc. staff have come up with innovative solutions to encourage healthy lifestyles among its employees including hydration challenges, the launch of a menopause support group, webinars, resilience training and yoga sessions.

Co-ordinated by the human resources team, ideas are gathered through the staff welfare group, reaching into every level of the business. Staff members also volunteer as health advocates, tasked with helping to spread the word.

Laura said: “Recently we tried our first No Meetings Week, a suggestion that came from our senior management team. During that week we ran a series of talks and workshops including prostate cancer and breast cancer awareness, mindfulness sessions and pension webinars to target financial wellbeing.”

Liz Elwell, Etc.’s group head of human resources said: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is a priority for us here at the Education Training Collective, never more so than during these challenging times.

“We are constantly looking for ways to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles and support mental wellbeing, so to have our efforts recognised is an incredible achievement.

“For us it is not just about creating a happier, healthier workforce and creating a positive working environment, but also recognising the important part our colleges have to play in promoting health and wellbeing and raising awareness in our communities.”

Laura Moon

Elf efforts raise Cash for Kids

Santa’s little helpers have been helping bring gifts to children who might not have otherwise received gifts under the tree this Christmas.

Staff at Stockton Riverside College, Bede Sixth Form, NETA Training and The Skills Academy, dressed as elves as part of their annual Elf Yourself celebrations, collecting toys and gifts for Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas.

“Elf Yourself is a popular event at Stockton Riverside College,” said apprenticeship compliance manager and chair of the staff association, Nikki Thurston. “This year we invited colleagues from our sister colleges to get involved.”

With some staff currently working from home, she said: “We didn’t have quite the number of elves that we usually have on site, but staff were incredibly generous and we collected more gifts than ever.”

The team from health, childcare, education, creative and digital made cash donations, raising £200, and staff headed out to stock up on Christmas gifts.

The department’s programme area leader, Kelly Johnson, said: “I think that we are all aware that during lockdowns money has been tight for a lot of families. We wanted to buy toys and gifts to help people in the local community. It is important that we recognise how fortunate we are.”

Staff members also made donations directly to the charity online.

Handing over the goodies to Cash for Kids’ Mission Christmas driver George Headley, Nikki said: “Staff generously donated gifts of all shapes and sizes, and there was more for the older children this year too. People often just think about donating gifts for the under 10s, but there were lots of gifts for the teenagers as well.”

Cash for Kids’ Aimee Littlefair said: “The support we receive every year is overwhelming and we couldn’t complete our mission without the support of the local community. We can’t thank the colleges enough for joining our Mission and helping make Christmas magical for thousands of local children living in the North East.”

Etc. scoops double award success

Efforts to help transform the fortunes of a Tees Valley college and its community have been recognised with two national awards.

The titles recognise the Education Training Collective’s (Etc.) commitment to building aspirations and opportunities in Redcar following the merger of Stockton Riverside College and Redcar and Cleveland College.

The Etc. was named winner in the Not for Profit and Community Impact categories at The Institute for Turnaround (IFT) Awards 2021 where Robert Griffiths, who was instrumental in the turnaround projects, collected the coveted prizes on behalf of the group.

IFT Awards

Jason Faulkner, Redcar & Cleveland College Principal, said: “This is a college for the community and that is very important to the team here, it was something the team sought to achieve from day one, so to be recognised for community impact, on a national scale, is really quite special and quite incredible.”

Jason explained a merger of the colleges in 2018 brought with it the chance to ensure accessible training opportunities in Redcar, developing skills and increased ambition for a community experiencing a challenging time in its history.

The college has worked closely with local schools, employers and the local and combined authorities, to ensure it is delivering the skills that are most needed. Results have included the creation of a decommissioning academy to match jobs created by the clean-up of the former SSI site, and the development of skills programmes that will align with the demands of emerging local sectors.

A partnership with Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, the Sir William Turner Foundation, local football clubs and the Football Foundation, has also seen the build of a new 3G all-weather football pitch at the college, proving an asset to both students and grassroots sport in the area.

Jason said: “More young people and adults are being trained and re-trained to take on jobs needed in the local area. The future for people growing up and living in the Redcar area is now brighter than it has been since 2015 when the steelworks closed. We are extremely proud of all that has been achieved at the college and the impact this is now having on the wider community.”

With 10 awards up for grabs, the annual IFT Awards celebrate the best of business turnaround, recognising contributions towards turnaround, transformation and restructuring.

Councillor Mary Lanigan, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, added: “The merger of Redcar and Cleveland College has produced a huge improvement in what is on offer to young people in our borough. From being on the brink of closure to providing quality education where people live has been a hugely impressive transformation.

“Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council works closely with the college to support this ongoing improvement and we are proud of what the college has achieved in providing a better chance in life for people in all of our communities.”

Tees Valley colleges scoop £3m skills funding boost

Colleges and training providers across the Tees Valley have come together to secure £2.955m funding to help meet local training and skills needs, and help get people into work.

The investment from the Department for Education Strategic Development Fund will see the establishment of new facilities and the development and delivery of new training programmes, with each provider focusing on projects to cater for specific sector demands and plug emerging skills gaps.

Etc. - Gary Potts

Leading the initial bid for the Tees Valley colleges, group vice principal for business, innovation and partnerships at the Education Training Collective (Etc.), Gary Potts said: “This is further evidence of the clear and demonstrable impact we can have on the Tees Valley when the colleges and training providers across the region work together.

“Our collaborative efforts will see us servicing the needs of local employers and supporting people with the skills and training they need to access local jobs.”

The funding pot has been divided between Darlington College, Hartlepool College of Further Education, Learning Curve Group, Middlesbrough College Group, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College and Stockton Riverside College.

Introduced as part of the DfE’s Skills for Jobs white paper, the Strategic Development Fund encourages colleges and training providers to work together, alongside employers and other partners, to respond to local skills priorities.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “It’s great to see that our colleges have worked together to secure this funding. This cash will target the sectors that need it the most and help create a skilled workforce ready to secure the good-quality, well paid jobs we’re creating across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”

The investment will see Darlington College focus on professional business services and advanced manufacturing, Hartlepool College of Further Education, on construction and civil engineering; Learning Curve Group, digital, Middlesbrough College will focus on engineering and NETA Training on scaffolding, rigging and lifting.

Redcar and Cleveland College will develop sector skills in clean energy technologies and decommissioning, and Stockton Riverside College further developing logistics, shipping and rail. The fund will also enable further investment in boosting the delivery of the highly successful Teesworks Skills Academy.

Etc. vice principal Gary said: “The funds will be spent on premises, facilities, equipment and the development of new programmes of study, all to support key Tees Valley sectors, the roles available within those sectors and the skills and training needed to support them.

“This is about building skills for the immediate and short term, as well as building capacity for the longer term.”

Celebrating 25 years working with The Prince’s Trust

Award-winning teaching staff at the Education Training Collective are celebrating 25 years of changing young people’s lives as delivery partners of The Prince’s Trust.

To mark the occasion the team welcomed a host of special guests to a celebratory event, including The Prince’s Trust UK Chief Executive, Jonathan Townsend.

Jonathan Townsend, Jason Faulkner and Gillian Hutchinson

Hearing former students share their experiences of the programme in the Tees Valley, Jonathan said: “One of the things I have missed during the pandemic is hearing people’s real-life experiences of working with the Trust.

“To hear the stories of students today, so long after they completed the programme, and expressing the impact it has had on their lives, is so uplifting.”

Among those to share his story was 37-year-old Johnathon Gallagher from Middlesbrough. Joining the Team programme almost 20 years ago, he said: “All these years later the elements of the Team programme are still ingrained in my mind. The course is incredible and teaches you skills you need for life, something it is still doing for so many young people today.”

Johnathon Gallagher and Gillian Hutchinson

The Prince’s Trust Team programme is a personal development course available to unemployed young people aged 16 to 25. By taking part in a series of tasks and challenges, including an outdoor residential and work experience, they develop new life skills, self-esteem and direction. Approximately 80% of those young people go on to employment, further education or training.

It’s a formula that worked for Johnathon, who went on to become a Prince’s Trust Team leader himself with Stockton Riverside College, before moving on to a regional manager’s job with The Prince’s Trust in London.

These days Johnathon is the Head of Community Safety for the London Borough of Islington. His role is to tackle tough issues such as youth violence, counter terrorism, gang culture and violence against women and girls.

Joining the college’s Prince’s Trust anniversary celebrations, hosted at Redcar and Cleveland College as part of the Education Training Collective (Etc.), the Queen’s representative, Lord Lieutenant for County Durham, Sue Snowdon, said: “I am absolutely privileged to be here today and to join the celebrations of 25 years of The Prince’s Trust with the college group. To hear the personal stories is humbling but also inspirational. This is what The Prince’s Trust was designed to do and achieve.”

Redcar MP Jacob Young added: “It is fantastic to see and hear all of the amazing stories of people who have gone through The Prince’s Trust Team programme and it is great to now have that presence here in Redcar and Cleveland, supported by the college and the Etc.”

The Etc.’s Prince’s Trust team was named FE Team of the Year at the Pearson National Teaching Awards 2020. Finally able to officially celebrate at a sparkling event in London at the end of September, the group’s head of department for the Prince’s Trust, Gillian Hutchinson, said: “What a few weeks it has been. We are so proud of everything that has been achieved over the last 25 years.

“Every young person that we work with is different and that means that every programme is different. To be able to celebrate with former students who have gone on to achieve so much is incredible and quite emotional.”

Etc Prince's Trust team

Inspiring tutors bring home the gold

The remarkable efforts of an Etc. teaching team have been recognised on the national stage.

After months of waiting in the wings, this week the Prince’s Trust department got to officially celebrate being named the Pearson National Teaching Awards FE Team of the Year.

Invited to a glittering celebration at the London Marriott Hotel, the college group’s head of department for the Prince’s Trust, said: “It was an incredible event and we were proud and humbled to be a part of it.”

The National Teaching Awards are a celebration of exceptional teachers that recognise the life changing impact teachers, teaching assistants, head teachers and lecturers can have on young people’s lives. Just 14 gold awards are given out each year.

Working with unemployed young people aged 16 to 25, staff members from the Etc. Prince’s Trust Team regularly make a life changing impact on their students, helping to build their confidence and self-esteem and often seeing them move on to further education, training or employment.

Gillian said: “It is not always an easy job, but the rewards when you see the learners go on to achieve their goals are massive.”

For the team, which this week also celebrates 25 years of working in partnership with The Prince’s Trust, it is far more than just a job. Each member gives their endless support, enthusiasm and motivation to every young person.

Proud to bring one of the coveted titles to the Tees Valley, Gillian said: “This is fantastic not just for our team, our young people, our college group and the region, but also for all those further education workers who teach non-traditional learners.”

Winners were announced on BBC’s The One Show last year but the celebration event was put on hold due to the pandemic.