Colleges invited to discuss skills centre

Preliminary talks are due to be held about the possibility of creating a Berwick Innovation and Skills Centre.

Thursday, 13th October 2016, 11:51 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 16:05 pm

A meeting of key stakeholders, including several further and higher education establishments is being held later this month to discuss the project.

“It’s very early days but it’s well established that Berwick lacks a decent further education facility so we’ve invited key stakeholders to a meeting on October 26,” Cllr Eric Goodyer told members of Berwick Town Council on Monday night.

Invites have been sent to Northumberland College, Berwick Adult Education, Sunderland University, Berwick Community Trust and Berwick Chamber of Trade.

Further education provision is currently provided by Northumberland College at three locations, including the Ramparts where its construction courses are delivered.

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Northumberland County Council also offers a range of skills courses through the adult learning centre, now based in the revamped library.

There is no higher education provision in Berwick, though Sunderland University did explore the possibility of opening a satellite campus around 2010.

“Employers have reported that a local skills shortage is holding back economic growth,” said Cllr Goodyer. “Yet educational providers have said that they have a shortage of applicants for their existing courses.

“We want to bring together key stakeholders to discuss the establishment of a Berwick Innovation and Skills Centre to act as a focus for the delivery of a range of solutions.”

These include a training centre to be shared between the various education providers, to provide a range of courses at all levels; a business incubator unit to include light industrial units; and a business advice centre to offer support for small businesses and start-ups.

“This couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Cllr Paul Hodgson.