College group joins nationwide campaign to support its local communities

Hundreds of hours spent helping good causes are now being added up by staff and students across the Education Training Collective (Etc.).

The college group has signed up to a national campaign encouraging people to support their local communities. The Good for Me Good for FE campaign aims to generate £1m of social value via a sustainable programme of community action including volunteering, fundraising and charitable partnerships.

No stranger to doing their bit for their communities, the Etc. colleges were happy to get on board.

“I believe everybody at some point in their life should do some form of volunteering,” said James Ruddock, Stockton Riverside College’s course leader for professional programmes.

Volunteering up to 90 hours a month as a special chief inspector with Cleveland Police and a driving force behind the launch of a new water safety charity, he said: “For me, it is enjoyable and a privilege to be in a position where you are able to help people.”

Now supported by its own small team of volunteers, Tees River Rescue aims to preserve and protect lives on the River Tees by deploying a river rescue craft and carrying out river safety patrols.

James, 35, of Middesbrough, said: “I get a lot of personal satisfaction knowing that we have made a difference and that can be quite grounding and humbling.”

Once again heading into her busiest time of year, NETA Training’s centre support manager Sian Cameron is also well known for putting the voluntary hours in, as Poppy Appeal organiser for Hartlepool.

For her, it means limitless hours spent manning the stands, delivering poppies across the borough and seeing her home in Wolviston full to bursting with red paper flowers.

Entering her 12th year at the helm, Sian’s efforts were recently recognised by Hartlepool Council, named Honorary Freewoman of the Borough.

“It’s good to be able to give back to the community,” she said. “Volunteering or doing something for others ultimately gives you a sense of pride, knowing what you have done is helping those around you.”

Counting up the time she dedicates to the Poppy Appeal alone each year, she said: “It works out about 900 hours.” Also giving many more hours to helping those in her local community, she added: “It is nice to be nice.”

Putting the spotlight on the amazing voluntary work carried out by their staff members like James and Sian, the Etc. colleges, made up of Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy, are among over 100 signed up to the Good for Me Good for FE campaign.

The initiative builds on the success of FE Foodbank Friday, an initiative that saw colleges around the country come together during the pandemic to raise over £47,000 and collect more than 20,000 items for local foodbanks.

“This is chance to highlight the fantastic work that individuals across our college group are already doing to support their local communities and to encourage others to think about ways they can help make a difference,” said the Etc.’s Group Marketing Director, Erika Marshall.

“While people like James and Sian go above and beyond, there are so many small ways we can all play our part and together make a really positive impact.”

The Good for Me Good for FE campaign is being spearheaded by London South East Colleges, East Coast College and Loughborough College.

Colleges collaborate to support NHS and careers in healthcare

Colleges and health bosses are making a pledge to work together to help plug potential skills gaps and raise awareness of opportunities in the health and social care sectors, among young people.

The “Skills for Health” pledge comes as the impact of Covid 19 has shone a spotlight on the vital services provided by those working in the industry.

The Education Training Collective (Etc.), Hartlepool College of Further Education and the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, will now work in collaboration to help identify skill needs, recruit new staff, educate and raise awareness in communities and upskill and reskill existing staff.

And with funding from The Prince’s Trust, as part of the charity’s initiative to support young talent into work in healthcare, the colleges have also committed to help more young people, aged 16 to 30, start new careers with the NHS and wider care sector.

“The pandemic has highlighted more than ever the essential work being carried out by our hospitals and care workers,” said Stockton Riverside College Principal, Lesley Graham. “At the same time, the impact has seen significant rises in unemployment, particularly among young people.

“As part of the Education Training Collective, which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training and The Skills Academy, we already have effective working links with the NHS, along with over a hundred healthcare employers.

“Our Skills for Health Pledge will now continue to build on this, helping to plan for and meet current and future training and skills needs, ensuring vital services are maintained and enhanced through a strong and capable forward-thinking workforce.”

Also throwing their weight behind the pledge, Darren Hankey, Principal and Chief Executive of Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Labour market intelligence clearly highlights current and future skills gaps in the NHS and wider health and social care sector.

“Digitisation, an aging workforce and an increasing demand are three such challenges and it’s important the college has a curriculum that ensures our students gain the right knowledge, skills and qualifications to meet these challenges.

“In further education, collaboration is key. We hope to build on the work we currently do with the Etc. and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to help meet the Trust’s organisational development needs as well as to ensure our curriculum is preparing our students for opportunities that will clearly be there once they leave college.”

The project has already recruited a Skills for Health ambassador, and there are plans for a further ambassador role plus additional support roles in the pipeline, to co-ordinate employer and community links.

Tracy Squires, Deputy Chief People Officer at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We welcome the pledge as an education-led initiative to help people pursue a career in health and social care.

“As one of the region’s largest employers it’s only right and proper that we support this initiative and attract local people to work for the Trust. Education and employment can help people live happier, healthier lives.

“Working in partnership with local colleges allows the Trust to develop courses to get the people with the skills needed to deliver quality care for our patients. There is huge flexibility working with local partners. During the height of Covid 19 the Trust developed a course to train people to become team support workers. This role allowed ward nurses in the Trust to focus on their distinct roles whilst collaborating with support workers who could take on other essential duties such as feeding and supporting patients with essential aspects of their daily care. At a time of great need, our partnership found a solution which helped us, our partners and created more than 60 opportunities for employment with the Trust.

“Nationally, we know there is a lot of demand for people to work in health and social care. We’re always looking for people with the right values and behaviours to work in the NHS and we’re confident our partnership will identify and train those people. And once you begin a career in the NHS, who knows how far you can potentially develop and contribute given the many opportunities and range of positions on offer.”

Four new governors join the Etc. board

The Education Training Collective (Etc.) has appointed four new industry leaders to its governing board in a move to help continue to drive the college group forward and inspire upcoming talent.

With an eye to the future, the formidable four come from a diverse range of specialist sectors, including a leading global biotech expert.

Biochemist and director of the National Horizons Centre, Dr Jen Vanderhoven, will join the board along with One Awards’ managing director Fabienne Bailey, operations director at PD Ports, Rachel Beeken, and retired operations manager, chemical engineer and industry consultant, Mark Wilson.

All respected in their fields, each shares a passion to help motivate and inspire young people and adult learners of the Tees Valley.

Dr Jen Vanderhoven, said: “For me, it’s about raising the aspirations of the future workforce. And, I want to show that the North-east is a great place to be and that you don’t have to leave the area to get an amazing job.”

Former vice president of global business change at Billingham-based FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, Jen’s career in bioscience has seen her at the forefront of global collaboration bringing together industry, academia and policy makers to drive innovation, research and ultimately develop treatments and life-saving medicines.

She said: “I have worked with so many inspirational people in my career and that has opened up opportunities to me. Now I am passionate about giving something back and encouraging others to be the best they can be.”

This is a sentiment shared by Fabienne Bailey. With more than 20 years working in the education, training and skills sector, for her there is no greater feeling than helping others to achieve their personal goals.

Whether that means helping the unemployed develop the skills they need to get back into work or seeing adult learners fulfil their lifelong ambition of going to university, throughout her career she has had the privilege of regularly witnessing both. Now she is looking forward to bringing that experience to the colleges that make up the Etc.

Describing herself as a lifelong learner, Fabienne said: “I feel I have skills to give and I am passionate about the Tees Valley. There are some fantastic industries here with good paying jobs, it is about helping people to know where the opportunities are and developing the skillsets to find those jobs.”

Relatively new to the area but no less passionate, PD Ports’ operations director, Rachel Beeken, recognises the opportunities that are out there.

A fast-paced career in logistics, progressing through the ranks, has seen her live and work all over the UK, and for a time in France, but now settled in Darlington she wants to share lessons learned with future talent.

“This is a growing area with investment coming in, particularly at the port. There are so many types of work that young people often don’t know is available, such as logistics. It would be great to show people from all backgrounds, the opportunities that are in this industry for those with the right skillset.”

Completing the quartet is chemical engineer Mark Wilson. Having spent a lengthy senior strategic career working in industry, taking in the likes of Huntsman Tioxide, ENSUS, SABIC and ICI, he describes the Tees Valley as being “on the cusp of an economic revival”.

Valuing people, training and the need for positive role models, his aim as a college governor is to help build further collaboration with employers, equipping people with the skills most needed.

He said: “The Tees Valley has a high percentage of families with multiple generations of unemployment and lacking roles models. I believe it is incumbent on schools, colleges and universities to help fill this void.”

Looking forward to bringing his own energy, time and expertise to the group he added: “The region has been very good to me and my family and I would like to put something back.”

Mark White, chair of the Etc. governors said: “At the Education Training Collective we are proud to have a corporation board comprising outstanding leaders with a rich and diverse skill set. We are delighted to now welcome Jen, Fabienne, Rachel and Mark, fabulous appointments whose unique expertise and knowledge, I am sure, will help drive further success.”

The Education Training Collective incorporates Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training, Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy.

Green efforts get the silver stamp of approval

From cutting down on waste to monitoring their energy use, when it comes to doing their bit for planet, the Education Training Collective (Etc.) is leading by example.

Efforts to up their green credentials have now been officially recognised, as the college group has received the Investors in the Environment (IIE) Silver Award.

It’s good news for students and staff who, inspired to do their bit both in college and at home, are learning valuable lessons along the way.

“It has been hard work,” said the group’s executive director for planning and infrastructure, Phil Hastie. “But it has brought people together in a shared desire to make positive change, with the potential to make a much wider impact on our environment.”

Determined to make a sustainable impact the group, which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form, NETA Training and The Skills Academy, started their green agenda with small changes such as reducing the number of plastic bottles in the fridges, rewarding the use of reusable cups in their cafes and swapping single-use plastic cutlery for more sustainable options.

A team of like-minded individuals was set up to lead the movement and as a result, ideas have been much bolder and more ambitious.

A pledge to reduce the carbon footprint of the Etc. by improving sustainability, increasing recycling and cutting back on general waste and energy consumption, is now starting to reach fruition.

Having previously achieve the IIE Bronze Award in 2019, Phil said: “Our Green Initiatives Group has been a real force for good. To reach silver status has taken a further push from us as an organisation and from a team of dedicated and forward-thinking individuals.”

The college group has now introduced new environmental policies including a travel plan, it is monitoring its use of electricity, water, gas and fleet vehicles with specific targets in place, and is also tracking general and recycling waste.

Phil explained: “Our food waste from across all of our sites is now disposed of and anaerobically digested, significantly reducing waste to landfill.”

Now setting their sights on the IIE Green Award, he added: “There’s much more to be done.

“As an education provider at the heart of our communities we have a great platform to help people learn and understand the small changes they can make that will collectively have a massive impact on our environment.”

A gold stamp for drive to promote healthy habits

When it comes to encouraging healthy lifestyles among its staff the Education Training Collective (Etc.) has proven gold standard.

From keeping hydration levels up to counting steps, the college group makes promoting healthier habits a priority.

Now the group’s efforts, co-ordinated and driven by the human resources team, have been recognised with receipt of the prestigious Better Health at Work Gold Award.

Group Director of Human Resources, Kay Taylor

“It’s a fantastic achievement, particularly at a time when we have all faced such significant changes in both our working and home lives,” said the Group Director of Human Resources, Kay Taylor.

As employers, she said: “Focusing on people’s health and wellbeing has been more important than ever.”

However, their commitment to promote healthier habits among the team came long before any mention of the pandemic.

“We started working towards the gold award as part of our Great Place to Work Strategy,” said Kay. “At that point we couldn’t have predicted we would end up in a global pandemic.”

The group, which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form, NETA Training, The Skills Academy and Tees Valley Catering, introduced a host of simple measures to boost people’s everyday health and wellbeing.

Activities have included walking challenges, yoga and meditation workshops, expert talks about healthy eating, dementia and cancer awareness, book swaps and sharing recipes.

With the bronze and then silver awards under their belts, Kay said: “We have had to find new ways to reach people and adapt our activities during lockdown.”

Staff were given access to a host of online resources with hints and tips, the opportunity to tap into an employee assistance programme for those feeling in need of additional support as well as fun online workshops including virtual yoga.

The Better Health at Work Award recognises the efforts of employers in the North East and Cumbria addressing health issues within the workplace.

Kay said: “For us the health and wellbeing of people at work is an absolute priority. It is about raising awareness of small changes that can be made and finding ways in which these can be shared seamlessly with colleagues – which our health and wellbeing platform allows us to do.”

Of hitting the gold award standard, she added: “It is fabulous that our ongoing work has been recognised and we are now among the gold standard employers in the region.”

Middlesbrough IT firm marks 10-year milestone with five new apprenticeship vacancies

Have you got the gift of the gab and a passion for IT? AD Network Solutions are recruiting for apprentices.

Seeing the sign go up on their new premises was a proud moment for the team at AD Network Solutions (ADNS).

The culmination of 10 years hard work has seen a step up to larger purpose-designed offices at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Park.

Now the team are marking the occasion by recruiting for three new apprentice IT technical consultants to join the ranks along with two IT technician apprentices.

Commercial Director John Lupton said: “This is a great opportunity for the right people, and, for us, a further chance to grow the business.”

Hitting their official 10-year anniversary last year, John explained: “It has all been very low key so far as it didn’t feel right celebrating at the height of a pandemic.”

So instead, he and Managing Director, Jamie Allinson, struck upon an alternate way to mark the occasion, with the introduction of a brand-new apprenticeship opportunity.

Delivered alongside Stockton Riverside College, and with support from the Tees Valley Mayor and the Combined Authority’s Tees Valley Apprenticeship Support Grant, the technical consultant role will see the new recruits working at the forefront of the business, promoting IT solutions to new and existing clients.

After what has been a challenging year for all, John said: “We are fortunate to be in a position to be able to continue to grow our business. Offering apprenticeship opportunities is a great way to do that.”

With a strong track record for apprenticeship success, ADNS has several team members who started with the company as apprentices, as well as many more who have gone on to progress in the industry.

“For us, it is about being able to grow our own talent,” said John, who is looking for applicants with plenty of passion and drive.

Offering a bespoke mix of IT knowledge, customer service and sales skills, Stockton Riverside College Assessor in Digital and Professional IT, Jamie Gilbey, explained: “We are excited to be working with ADNS to launch this apprenticeship opportunity – which is a first for the college.”

With the digital and IT industry in rapid demand, he said: “In the last 12 months, due to Covid-19 restrictions, we are rapidly becoming a digital workforce. As more companies have had to go digital, they need that IT support.

“This apprenticeship offers another career route for those with an interest in IT, leading to a range of potential roles such as specialist sales consultants, customer support or account management.”

With the potential for progression with ADNS, John said: “These roles are a key component of our business moving forward. We are not just looking for sales people we are looking for applicants who have a real interest in IT and in particular cyber security, data protection and delivery of compliance.”

To find out more about the vacancies visit: Apprentice IT Technical Consultant – Find an apprenticeship (

Or Level 3 IT Technician Apprentice – Find an apprenticeship (