Northumberland College skills centre aims to tackle skills shortages - sponsored feature

Upskilling for health care workers and training for students is being offered by Northumberland College's fully-equipped health skills centre - sponsored feature

Northumberland College in Ashington
Northumberland College in Ashington

New facilities to train the next generation of health and care workers as well as tackling the skills shortage in the sector have been developed by Northumberland College.

The fully-equipped health skills centre will provide learning for full-time students and training facilities for employees in the sector who need to upskill.

Based at the college’s Ashington campus the centre, which will become fully operational next month, replicates a hospital ward with a bed and hoist, walking aids to help those with mobility problems and an infection control area. There are also two “virtual babies” and a number of resuscitation models to support training in childcare and first aid.

Joyce Guthrie, head of faculty at Northumberland College, said: “There is no doubt the demand for more skills in health, and particularly in the social care sector, is growing and will only get higher as people live longer.

“An ageing population will inevitably mean more people with dementia and mobility problems – it is essential that they are supported to lead a fulfilling life with a highly-trained workforce.

“It is also vital that we adhere to the highest standards of hygiene and infection control courses which will be an integral part of our health skills centre with light boxes and hand-washing equipment to reinforce this.

“In addition, there is an increasing emphasis on the need for the children’s workforce to be trained in emergency first aid. The virtual real-size baby is an amazing piece of technology which gives as realistic a scenario as possible. They can be programmed in a variety of ways to replicate the demands of a real baby. We can send the babies home with a student and then get a computer printout of how they looked after them. It gives them real insight – when I tried out the baby I was completely frazzled

“It is not going too far to say that the health skills training we are offering will save lives and those who complete it will be well-prepared for the challenges facing health and social care today.”

For more information about the Health Skills Centre at Northumberland College, call 01670 841200 or visit


Ryan Eadington, left, and Nathan Green, right, apprentice with Naturalight Systems Ltd, with the company design/project manager Simon Johnston
Ryan Eadington, left, and Nathan Green, right, apprentice with Naturalight Systems Ltd, with the company design/project manager Simon Johnston

A Bedlington firm has turned to Northumberland College to recruit another apprentice to help drive the business forward.

Naturalight Systems Ltd, which specialises in roof glazing solutions for industry, was so impressed with the apprentice taken on last year that they decided to employ another.

Ryan Eadington, 21, from Choppington, has been followed into the business by Nathan Green, 19, of Ashington. Both are on advanced level apprenticeships in engineering technical support. Ryan is a trainee CAD (computer aided drawing) technician and Nathan a design apprentice.

Simon Johnston, design/project manager at Naturalight, said: “The apprentices have played a key role in assisting us deal with increased demand due to the company’s growth within the industry sector.

“They have played a vital role in assisting the design office to meet target dates and client expectations.

“Northumberland College has been of great assistance to Naturalight Systems in the recruitment of apprentices, and we would highly recommend them as they work in a highly-professional and efficient manner to fulfil our recruitment requirements.”

Naturalight Systems Ltd was established in 2001, to service the requirements of the roof lights and structural glazing industries.

Lisa Mood, head of business solutions at Northumberland College, said: “We are delighted that we are continuing to support Naturalight Systems Ltd to grow. Ryan and Nathan are great examples of how apprentices supported by the college can make a real difference to employers. Whatever the business size, we can help to deliver training solutions to help it to develop a skilled and productive workforce.”


Northumberland College Principal Marcus Clinton
Northumberland College Principal Marcus Clinton

By Marcus Clinton, Northumberland College principal

Embedding enterprise into college life is something which can transform lives, create job opportunities, help diversify income streams when funding is tight and promote an outstanding culture where enterprising learners stand out.

The ultimate aim is to have more employers willing to accept more of our students on to placements, traineeships, apprenticeships and into jobs because they trust the college culture, enterprise, training and support, producing students with the right skills and attitude.

It is why I am delighted to announce our intention to launch Enterprise 10. The name is a quick way of demonstrating that our students interact with enterprise and improve their work skills and employability in 10 different ways. It is effectively an over-arching learning company, a means of infusing the curriculum experience with real work, owned and driven by the students.

Enterprise 10 can act as a catalyst and conduit by which work can be contracted out within the college by students, all fully insured as with any reputable business.

More details will be revealed at a formal launch later this year but in simple terms it is about:

* Engaging students in college-run commercial activities.

* Nurturing talent by developing student-run retail outlets.

* Taking on projects for local businesses through contracting by employers.

* Experience work with placements as part of study.

* Reward entrepreneurial behaviour through competitions like Dragons’ Den.

* Promote voluntary work to support college commercial enterprises.

* Running the company Enterprise 10 to do real-life tasks in college and the wider community.

* Innovation through the Enterprise 10 club at the heart of college and student activity.

* Social enterprise encouraged and developed.

* Enterprise hub infusing the curriculum experience with real work owned and driven by the students.

Students will run small enterprises such as a photography shop, stationery shop, floristry, computer repair shop, pop-up shops, stalls – they will have to pitch their business plan to get a contract.

While many activities are already happening, Enterprise 10 will take them to a new level – creating challenging, exciting and innovative ways of learning within a dynamic, entrepreneurial curriculum around the needs of employers and learners alike.


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