Northumberland College and Blueline Taxis deliver journey to work - sponsored feature

Unemployed drivers and call centre workers have been helped into work thanks to new academy run by Blueline Taxis and Northumberland College - sponsored feature

From left, Northumberland College principal Marcus Clinton, Skills Minister Nick Boles, Ian Shanks of Blueline Taxis and Jacqui Henderson, chair of Northumberland College governors, at the opening of the Blueline Training Academy in Walkergate, Newcastle

Taxi firm and college delivering fare deal for the unemployed.

A drive to help unemployed drivers and call centre workers into jobs has been hailed a huge success thanks to a family taxi firm’s partnership with Northumberland College.

Almost 200 people who have undertaken Blueline’s taxi driver-training course are now licensed and on the road, while a further 50 who completed a training course for call centre staff have secured employment.

Earlier this year Skills and Equalities Minister Nick Boles opened the £500,000 Blueline Training Academy in Walkergate, Newcastle, which has seen demand for places soar.

Academy recruits study nine units during the three-week course, delivered by Blueline staff and tutors from Northumberland College, covering customer service, dealing with difficult situations and route knowledge.

They also study English and maths while a partnership with the Business Factory gives course attendees advice and information on grants, book-keeping and other areas of practical support.

Charlotte Attwell, employability skills leader at Northumberland College, said: “This has been a great success. The college prides itself on developing bespoke training to exactly match employers’ needs. What is most satisfying about our partnership with Blueline is the number of unemployed people we have helped gain new skills and qualifications and get off benefits into jobs.”

Those who have benefited from the training have nothing but praise. Nathan managed to achieve his licence within four months and is attending the college three days a week to further his education.

“I needed to get back into work, better myself and provide for my family,” he said. “I thought the course would be hard and that it would take a long time to learn all the information needed to pass.”

Stacey worked as a cleaner but the course has helped her gain more hours with a stable job.

“I’m more confident, much happier in myself and enjoy the job,” she said. “The course helps confidence and to gain a qualification. I would definitely recommend it.”

Ian Shanks managing director of the Blueline Group, said: “By working with Northumberland College we have been able to create a learning and skills pathway that puts local people who want to work on the road to a new career.”

David Lishman, employer adviser at Jobcentre Plus, added: “The job centre has enjoyed a very fruitful relationship with Blueline and Northumberland College for two years now, enabling many customers to move forward into the world of work, either as a taxi driver or within the Blueline call centre.”

To find out about the Blueline Academy, visit

Call the Northumberland College business solutions team on 01670 841268 for more information as to how they can help your business.

Northumberland’s proud record on apprenticeships

By Marcus Clinton

Marcus Clinton, vice principal at Kirkley Hall College

It is very heartening to be in charge of a college which is set to deliver a record number of apprenticeships this year.

The central challenge for any college is delivering what employers want and all the evidence is that this is increasingly the case for Northumberland.

While we are yet to ascertain any impact that further reductions in Government funding announced by the Chancellor will have on us, there is no doubt we are playing our part in delivering toward the ambitious three million apprenticeship target set by the Prime Minister.

Our teams at Ashington and Kirkley Hall are engaging with employers of all sizes to shape the curriculum to meet their needs.

The increasing measure of success in the further education sector is not whether a student has passed their course but whether they get a job.

It is why we put so much emphasis on putting into learners the employability skills to prepare them for the workplace – not just the technical capabilities but the attitude and aptitude for work.

More jobs are being created, for example, in emerging technologies where employers have identified a skills gap and are struggling to recruit. It is our responsibility to be aware of that, devise solutions and train people for these opportunities.

It is not just apprenticeships – supporting long-term unemployed people into work has been another focus for us.

Our partnership with Blueline Taxis and JobCentre Plus – featured on this page – shows how collaboration can make a real difference to training and recruitment, benefiting the company and the individual.

It is a shining example of how industry and education can come together to resolve problems, create new opportunities and help businesses to grow.

While we are already working with more than 700 employers, there is a lot more that can be done.

I would urge employers from all sectors, whether they be a large, medium or small company, to engage with Northumberland College and our highly-responsive Business Solutions team to help develop a qualified, skilled and productive workforce.

By Marcus Clinton, Northumberland College Principal

Access funding

Employers in advanced manufacturing and engineering can learn how to access funding at a Northumberland College seminar later this month.

Experts from Semta – the employer-led not-for-profit organisation charged with engineering skills for the future – will be on hand to show businesses, including SMEs, how they can invest in R and D through a tax credits claim system designed to assist innovation.

The event is from 8.30-10am on Thursday, June 25, at Northumberland College’s Ashington campus. If you would like to attend, please contact Liz McMillan by email: or call 07507 850797.

Cut above

An advanced cutting workshop will be held in Ashington later this month to demonstrate new techniques to suit up-and-coming trends for hairdressers.

The Saks technical arts team will be showing off their skills in the state-of-the-art salon at Northumberland College between 9am and 12 noon on Thursday, June 25, finishing with a light lunch.

Any hairdressing employer interested in getting involved should contact Liz McMillan by email: or call 07507 850797.


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