TOMORROW, we open our vastly modernised marine school, a £4.5m investment that is bringing more than 150 years of world-famous seafaring teaching into the 21st Century.
This ambitious development is a clear sign of the importance of moving with the times. We are continually and deliberately adapting to the ever-changing needs of our students and of the world in which they are fighting.
We have pioneered close links with employers throughout the region, seeking their opinion and asking how we can help.
National and international companies – some household names like Siemens, others lesser known but playing a vital part in the region’s economy – have told us what they need.
In no area of the college are we standing still, a vital attribute if we are to meet the ambitions of those looking to learn. Our aim is to support them, help them think differently and open a future with potential.
Research of the needs of employers and potential employees has led us to place a great deal of emphasis on vocational courses. Our range is exceptional – from creative industries, hairdressing, beauty and health care to motor vehicle technology, engineering, manufacturing and science.
We have developed courses that lead to real jobs in sectors such as engineering and manufacturing – areas where a skills shortage has been identified and where new technologies, including renewable energy, are kicking in. We help students aiming for university, but we can provide skilled hands to fulfill other much-needed roles.
Ours is a very effective outlook. We have the facilities and the skills of experienced educators. We also have young people desperate to forge futures and learn the skills needed to enter employment at the first opportunity. Our pre-apprenticeship programmes, which allow students to sample a subject before entering it full-time, have been hugely successful, leading to jobs in many sectors at home and abroad.
We have also created entry level courses for those who may not meet current entry criteria or need greater experience. Such dedication has led Ofsted to rate our engineering programmes as ‘good’, highlighting that our students are very positive about their experience at the college and how well it prepares them for their next step.
Ofsted described our range of specialist maritime provision as ‘outstanding’ and we are expanding vessel support level training to help shipping firms replace an ageing workforce, while also supporting the planned expansion of offshore wind industries. For those seeking careers at sea, we are ensuring the world is their oyster, training cadets for highly-paid jobs.
Education is changing. We are embracing those changes and that’s what sets us apart.
:: Lindsey Whiterod is the principal and chief executive of South Tyneside College.