Northumberland College apprentices battle it out for new trophy - sponsored feature

Apprentices from a range of sectors will be pitted against each other when Northumberland College holds its first Apprenticeship Challenge - sponsored feature

Kirkley Hall Campus of Northumberland College
Kirkley Hall Campus of Northumberland College

Around 50 apprentices left their classrooms and workplaces to take part in Northumberland College’s inaugural Apprenticeship Challenge

Students from construction, business, IT, horticulture, engineering and customer services formed teams to compete for the trophy at the Kirkley Hall campus on Thursday, March 12.

Activities included high ropes, crate stack, zip slide, forest challenge, bush craft and leap of faith, finishing with some old favourites such as an egg and spoon race and sack race.

Liz McMillan, external relationship manager at Northumberland College, said: “It is a great way to generate some team spirit among the students from both Ashington and Kirkley Hall campus.

“It promises to be a really fun day which will not only help us to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week but will help those taking part to demonstrate and develop leadership skills, team-working, problem-solving and, not least, resilience. These are all qualities which the apprentices can take back to the workplace, benefiting themselves and, of course, their employers. There has been a really positive response to the Apprenticeship Challenge, which will hopefully help us to develop the event for future years.”

Employers were also invited to the event to see the new facilities being developed at Kirkley Hall and to find out how they can work with the college through apprenticeships and skills training. The winning team was presented with the Apprenticeship Challenge Trophy.

Northumberland College offers its learners the opportunity to shine

New Northumberland College chief executive Marcus Clinton has taken charge of an establishment at the heart of training skills and learning.

Northumberland College Principal Marcus Clinton
Northumberland College Principal Marcus Clinton

Marcus Clinton, Northumberland College principal and chief executive, is delighted to be in charge of a forward-thing, successful educational establishment, as he explains.

Having spent four years at the Kirkley Hall campus, I’m delighted to have completed my first four months as principal and chief executive officer of Northumberland College.

The enthusiasm of both staff and learners is infectious and we have begun a journey to ensure Northumberland College remains at the heart of training, skills and learning.

Northumberland College has two main campus sites; Ashington provides a wide range of vocational courses from art and design and engineering to hair and beauty, while Kirkley Hall is the college’s land-based centre where students have access to two commercially-run farms, an equine centre, outdoor activity centre and zoological gardens with 130 species. We also have outreach centres at Berwick and Hexham offering a range of curricula.x

We have 5,000 students, offering apprenticeships, full and part-time courses, a range of higher-education HNC, HND and foundation degree courses and bespoke training for employers. We are working with more than 700 businesses across the region.

The latest national league tables published by the Government’s Skills Funding Agency position us as the best-performing college in the North East for long-course student success rates and fourth best nationally with a learner success rate of 91.1% and an achievement rate of 97.5%.

I am determined to build on these good foundations, establishing excellent working relationships both inside the college with staff, students and the governing body and externally with a whole range of key stakeholders and partners.

The college’s £9.5m upgrade has created more facilities including a luxury hair and beauty salon, 40-seat modern restaurant, state-of-the-art motor vehicle, engineering and construction workshops at Ashington, and teaching block, arboriculture workshops and tractor workshops at Kirkley Hall.

Our priorities are very clear going forward; our focus will be resolutely on serving the communities of Northumberland and beyond, delivering the right skills and training to ensure positive outcomes for our students, with high levels of employer engagement central to this.

Northumberland is a wonderful county and we are committed to engaging with students of all ages, wherever they live, giving them the opportunity to succeed.

Northumberland College is first choice for North East employers looking for apprentices

Northern Gas Networks apprentices laying the foundations for their careers
Northern Gas Networks apprentices laying the foundations for their careers

Northumberland College is heading for a record year on apprenticeships having recruited more than 450 for employers in the past six months.

The college has already surpassed its targets for the year, placing 227 apprentices aged 16-18 with employers, as well as 163 aged 19-23 and 64 over-24s.

Now it is developing Pre-Apprenticeship Training programmes designed to help young people who are looking for an apprenticeship or employment but don’t yet have the appropriate skills or experience.

The programmes, lasting between 10 weeks and six months, will provide essential training – including maths, English and work experience – needed to find an apprenticeship or employment.

Lisa Mood, head of business solutions at Northumberland College, said: “We are delighted to be working with so many employers on apprenticeships. To see the look on the face of a young, unemployed and unskilled person when they realise that they are being offered a job that offers a real career is something very special.

“We also offer pre-employment training which are employer-led courses, with job vacancies attached. We have worked with employers to find 360 people, ranging from long-term unemployed to those placed at risk of redundancy, sustainable employment. The business solutions team at Northumberland College pride themselves on success rates, for helping people into jobs or to progress to further learning.”

The successes include 14 young apprentices working for Northern Gas Networks (NGN) as part of a revolutionary new contractor model, who completed their apprenticeship induction training with Northumberland College.

During an intensive week-long induction programme, the apprentices gained their SHEA Gas Passport which is essential to work in the gas industry. Training covered key elements such as health and safety, first aid and drug and alcohol awareness sessions.

The apprentices are following the Level 2 Gas Industry Apprenticeship framework and will attend college on a block release basis.

Northumberland College also assisted Prudhoe company Bespoke Concrete to recruit two apprentices but Bespoke’s managing director Martin Kay was so pleased with the calibre of applicants the college provided that he actually employed a third candidate.

And Blyth-based New Deleval Autos took two candidates from Northumberland College on traineeships to gain experience and knowledge in mechanics. It was so successful the company decided to take one of the learners on to an apprenticeship and the other as a full-time member of staff. It has also generously donated a car for the trainee mechanics doing full-time courses at college to work on.

Lisa added: “These are just some of the many fantastic examples of the college working with employers and learners. I would encourage all young people looking to further their studies and gain skills to make them work-ready to contact the college even if they get low GCSE grades.

“We would also invite employers who are not currently engaged with Northumberland College to get in touch. If they have vacancies, we can help fill them.

“Whatever the business size, we have the training solutions to help them develop a qualified, skilled and productive workforce.”

For more information visit or call the Northumberland College business solutions team on 01670 841268.


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