Local Growth Fund grants £954,983 to support Launch of North East Institute of Technology

Following the news today that New College Durham has been awarded a licence to operate as an Institute of Technology (IoT), the North East local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is pleased to announce it will support the IoT with a Local Growth Fund grant of £954,983 for specialist infrastructure and equipment to enable delivery of essential skills for robotics, pneumatics, mechatronics, hybrid electric vehicle manufacturing, service & repair, fabrication and welding.

The IoT will see New College Durham work in partnership with Nissan, Esh Group and Newcastle University to deliver quality higher-level technical training in subjects such as digital, advanced manufacturing and engineering.

Further education and private training providers also collaborating with the North East Institute of Technology are Sunderland College, Tyne Coast College, East Durham College, Middlesbrough College, and NA College Trust.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive at the North East LEP, said:

“We’re pleased to see that New College Durham has today been awarded their licence to operate as an Institute of Technology (IoT), offering quality higher-level technical pathways for learners in the North East. Funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund have been allocated to support the IoT with the purchase of essential equipment such as industry-grade machinery for students to use.

“As this initiative aims to help to close skills gaps in key STEM areas, and focus on the specific technical skills required to provide employers with the skilled workforce they need, using professional grade equipment which will be found in the workplace is essential and help produce work-ready employees.”

The Local Growth Fund is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.

Institutes of Technology form a key part of the Government’s biggest shake up to technical education in a generation. This includes introducing new T Levels from 2020 – the technical equivalent to A Levels – and more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

You can read more about IoTs here.

The North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group: Keeping people in employment

A North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group has launched to provide business resilience and get the region ready for recovery throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. It has a five point plan in place.

In our latest blog, Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), outlines the response in terms of keeping people in employment. 

The impact of Coronavirus on the North East marketplace has been hard and fast. As such, it won’t surprise anyone that one of the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group’s immediate priorities is to ensure that businesses keep people in employment and avoid shedding jobs.

In the first instance we are working hard to signpost employers to relevant information and financial support so they have options. Similarly, we are directing employees to advice so they are fully aware of their rights. 

Alongside this, we are coordinating a region-wide response to the more medium-term impact on jobs. This includes trying to capitalise on opportunities for redeployment; thinking about where there may be new and emerging roles; and supporting those who find themselves out of work both now and in the future.

Things are moving rapidly

This is a rapidly developing situation and it is hard to get a real reading on the current level of unemployment in the North East but we continue to gather intelligence and data, such as redundancy figures, and monitor the situation so we can provide appropriate interventions in a timely fashion. It’s likely we won’t have a true reflection until we are well past the other side of the lockdown. 

It’s really important that anyone affected can make sense of the regular updates coming from central Government so we have coordinated a response via the North East Growth Hub. This provides an up to date resource that simplifies things and people can trust. It features frequently asked questions and there is an opportunity to speak to experts if there is something specific visitors to the Hub need help with.

Help at the right time

The recent Government interventions came at a very timely moment. The opportunity to furlough workers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been a lifeline for a lot of companies and it has been very positive to see take up of this. 

It’s also been good to see many organisations move their workforces to home working so they can keep trading. There is definitely a pattern emerging where staff are being moved to shorter hours to keep them on the payroll while business is quiet. Everything like this helps right now.

Redeployment will be crucial to keeping people in jobs. Some sectors such as retail and tourism have been severely impacted so it’s crucial we look at how the transferable skills available can be used elsewhere, particularly where resource might be tight, for example in the health and social care sector. With the right training and background checks this is achievable and something I believe businesses will quickly get their heads round.

We’re on your side

Everyone is anxious right now, even those with jobs who are wondering what the new world will look like post Coronavirus. My advice is to check out the wealth of excellent advice available, such as on the Government site and via organisations such as TUC, all of which can be found by visiting the North East Growth Hub website. 

Ultimately, people can feel confident that this North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group is working with the North East Skills Advisory Panel and other partners to do absolutely everything it can to help the North East community weather this crisis and to make sure regional businesses remain well represented to Government.

To stay up to date with progress, follow @northeastlep on Twitter or visit the North East COVID-19 Economic Response Group page. Lots of helpful support can also be found on the North East Growth Hub.

North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (North East LEP) Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

The data covers both the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP areas and is for the final quarter of 2019.

“Employment has fallen, with 12,000 fewer people in work between October and December 2019 than in the previous quarter, and 13,000 fewer than in the same period in 2018. The sharp decline over the last quarter is disappointing news for the North East. It reflects part of a broader trend with the North East being one of four English regions (Yorkshire and the Humber, West Midlands, South West) to experience a decline in employment over the last quarter.

“Within this overall trend, the number of women employed has increased over the quarter by 7,000, while the number of men in employment has declined by 19,000. It is unclear at the moment what is driving these differing trends.

“Unemployment increased by 3,000 over the quarter and by 9,000 over the year, increasing the unemployment rate from 5.4% to 6.1%. The North East is the English region with the highest unemployment rate. Again, the trends differ across genders, with male unemployment increasing over both the quarter and the year, whilst female unemployment has fallen.

“Combined, these figures suggest the North East labour market is less strong than it was a year ago.

“It will be critically important that the North East Local Enterprise Partnership continues to work with partners across the region to deliver the Strategic Economic Plan’s ambition of more and better jobs. The Strategic Economic Plan is the region’s plan for delivering economic growth, but we cannot do it alone. We hope that the upcoming Budget prioritises those investments that partners in the region have highlighted to government as being important to driving growth in our economy.”

Newcastle pupils learn how to prepare for the world’s toughest rowing challenge

Pupils at Newcastle’s Excelsior Academy have been taking lessons from two North East rowers who are set to take on ‘the world’s toughest row’.

On 12 December, Paul Hopkins and Philip Pugh, known as the Atlantic Dream team, will be setting off from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, to race 3,000 miles to Antigua as part of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

As they have been training for the challenge, they have also been running workshops with year 8 pupils at Excelsior Academy, helping the students to learn about topics including nutrition, design, weather and engineering.

“By working with Excelsior Academy we’ve been able to help the students learn through experiencing a practical project like our rowing challenge,” said Philip Pugh. “The students have learnt about the construction of our boat – which will be the only wooden boat in the race – as well as how we prepare for a challenge like this, the training we do and the equipment that we’ll be using.”

Paul Hopkins added: “Children ask the most amazing questions and they come at things from a very different angle from adults. We wanted to inspire children of all backgrounds to know that they can achieve amazing things.”

The partnership is part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s Education Challenge programme, which is piloting a new model of learning in North East schools. The model is based on an approach which was first adopted in Nashville in 2005 and which resulted in significant improvements in attainment.

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director at the North East LEP, said: We hugely appreciate the support and involvement of Paul and Phil with Excelsior Academy and I know the students have been really inspired by working with them.

“By supporting teaching in an applied context through projects like this, it really enables pupils to engage with the subject, helping them to understand how what they learn at school applies to real-world situations. They’re an amazing pair to take on such an epic challenge and we’re looking forward to following their progress and success.”

As well as hearing from Paul and Philip and having the opportunity to ask questions about the challenge, the students will also visit the Port of Blyth to learn more about the construction of boats.

The students had the opportunity to sign Paul and Philip’s boat and, once the pair begin the challenge, will track their progress using GPS.

“Taking on this challenge takes us away from our homes and families but it will help to know that we have the support of all the pupils at Excelsior when we’re thousands of miles from home,” said Paul.

“Our boat is signed all over by people from the North East and we are rowing for everyone in the region. We’re not looking forward to the sea-sickness and discomfort but we are definitely looking forward to returning to Excelsior Academy when we’ve completed the race and telling the pupils all about it,” added Philip.

The Education Challenge programme supports schools to tackle their key challenges so they can improve, closing the gap between the region’s best and lowest performing schools to ensure that no child is left behind. Find out more at northeastambition.co.uk.

The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge will begin on 12 December 2019 and the Atlantic Dream team, who are the oldest pair of rowers in this year’s race, will be raising money for Tiny Lives and the Firefighters Charity. Find out more at atlanticdream19.com/

North East Local Enterprise Partnership reaction to ONS regional labour market statistics

North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Senior Economist, Victoria Sutherland, has commented on today’s regional labour market statistics, released by the Office for National Statistics.

“Today’s statistics show that the number of people in employment in the North East region – which includes both the North East and Tees Valley LEP areas – has increased by 6,000 over the last three months.

“Combined with statistics released last month that showed between March and June, the North East was the region in the UK with the largest increase in filled jobs, this suggests the regional labour market has begun to strengthen after a period of declining employment earlier in the year.

“Whilst the number of people in employment has increased, the number participating in the labour market has grown even faster. As a result, unemployment has also increased with 3,000 more people unemployed than last quarter.

“As the UK prepares to leave the European Union, there remains significant uncertainty in the economy.

“The North East LEP will continue to work with partners in the region, as well as Government, to create more and better jobs for our region and to support residents to access good quality employment opportunities.”

For the latest information and guidance on how businesses can prepare for Brexit, visit the North East Growth Hub’s free Brexit Toolkit.

North East to help shape adult retraining scheme

Adults across the North East will be personally invited to try out a pioneering new digital service that will help more people to get on a path to a new, more rewarding career, Education Minister Kemi Badenoch has announced today (20 August).

The Get Help to Retrain digital service is the first of a series of products that will make up the Government’s landmark National Retraining Scheme, which is being developed to support adults whose jobs may change or evolve due to new technologies – such as automation and AI – to gain the skills and confidence to land a new job.

Research has revealed that up to 35% of jobs could be at risk of changing as a result of automation in the next 10-20 years with computer programmes or even robots transforming the way things are done in the workplace.

Get Help to Retrain is designed to help adults to identify their existing skills, explore types of jobs and find training courses to gain the skills they need to progress. Dedicated support is also on hand from qualified careers advisers to guide people through the process and provide expert information and advice.

People in the North East are playing a key role in supporting the early testing of the scheme as it is rolled out across England. Following a successful testing phase in the Liverpool City Region in July, where the new service was trialled, it is now available for more adults to test across the North East and the West Midlands, as well as continuing in Liverpool.

Education Minister Kemi Badenoch said: “We are developing the National Retraining Scheme to support adults across the country whose jobs could be at risk of changing or evolving as a result of new technologies to learn new skills, build their confidence and get them on the path to a new career.

“The Get Help to Retrain digital service is just the start of what will become the full National Retraining Scheme, so it’s fantastic that the North East Local Enterprise Partnership has agreed to support us in making sure it’s a success.

“We are starting off small and rolling it out in stages so we can test, refine and develop the service as we go and make sure we get it right for the people who need it.”

As the next phase of the roll out ramps up, adults will benefit from new and improved features including being able to explore a wider range of training options online and being matched to types of jobs that they may not have considered they could do with their existing skills.

Get Help to Retrain has started as a private service so it can be fully tested and developed further before being made available publicly across England in 2020.

In the North East, eligible adults – those aged 24 and over, living in the local area with a qualification below degree level and working below a certain wage threshold – will be invited to trial the new service to make sure it works for the people that need it.

The National Retraining Scheme – backed by £100 million of Government investment – is a manifesto commitment and is a key part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy for building a country fit for the future. A series of additional products that will make up the full service are being developed and tested in parallel, before being released at different times.

The scheme is led and overseen by the National Retraining Partnership – a unique partnership between Government, the CBI and the TUC – to ensure the collective voices of businesses and employees are heard.

The National Careers Service in the North East , Liverpool City Region and West Midlands the supporting the testing of the scheme by providing qualified careers advisers to give expert information, advice and guidance to users of Get Help to Retrain.

Sarah Glendinning, CBI North East Director, said: “As our regional employment landscape changes and evolves, we need to support our local workforce to adapt. It’s therefore welcome news that the North East has been chosen as one of the first regions to be involved in the Get Help to Retrain scheme.

“It’s encouraging to see National Retraining Scheme testing rolled out in the North East.  Ensuring the UK’s workforce is fit for the future is essential to improving productivity growth. It’s the only sustainable route to higher wages and living standards.

“The world of work is changing, fast. The only way to help people adapt and learn throughout their careers is by employers and Government working together. The National Retraining Partnership should kick start a wider cross-government effort aimed at embracing the fourth industrial revolution.”

TUC Northern Secretary Beth Farhat said: “Every worker should have the opportunity to improve their skills and retrain. This is especially important as technology and automation are set to transform many industries in the North East in the coming years.

“The launch of the first phase of the National Retraining Scheme is great news. It’s the beginning of collaborative approach between government, unions and business to provide retraining to many more working people, so they are prepared for the jobs of the future. Union learning reps will play a central role helping workers access opportunities through the scheme.

“These trials are just the beginning. We look forward to helping the National Retraining Partnership develop a full programme to invest in the potential of all workers in the North East, so that our region has the skills we need for the future.”

Michelle Rainbow, Skills Director, North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “As our regional employment landscape changes and evolves, we need to support our local workforce to adapt. It’s therefore welcome news that the North East has been chosen as one of the first regions to be involved in the Get Help to Retrain scheme.

“This programme will help adults in our area whose jobs could be at risk, to explore their options, develop skills and access new work opportunities. The scheme will also help to support better productivity in our region, by matching skills more closely with employers’ needs.

“Although this scheme will target a relatively small number of adults initially, we would gladly support its extension to a wider workforce in the future if it proves to be successful.”

In conversation with Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University

Education employs 85,000 people in the North East and offers significant opportunities for more and better jobs in the region, directly and indirectly. Durham University is a world leader and has a ten-year strategy to invest £1 billion in people, and digital and physical infrastructures. Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge explores how universities can make a major contribution locally and globally, support a diverse and vibrant economy, and help tackle the country’s productivity challenge.

Education has long been a North East success story. But it’s not just part of our heritage, it’s a key sector for our future too: both in nurturing the highly-skilled workforce of tomorrow, and as a major employer, innovator, and exporter today.

Here at Durham, we’re not just England’s third oldest university; we’re making significant investments to ensure we remain a world-class university: investment that is absolutely necessary as we face increasing competition from universities in Asia, North America, Europe and elsewhere.

Universities already make a sizeable contribution to the economy: over £50 billion GVA in 2014/15, according to Universities UK. Our own figures suggest we were responsible for around £1.1 billion of that total.

At Durham, we employ 4,300 staff and have 18,400 students – considerable numbers in a City with a population of around 65,000.

But we believe there is also great potential for growth: the average student head count across Russell Group universities is 27,000; and the average staff roll is 7,700. So we’re in a period of carefully planned expansion: to recruit an extra 360 academic staff and grow our student numbers to 21,500 by 2027.

We believe we can achieve these targets because we continue to attract high calibre staff and students from around the world. We are also consistently ranked among the world’s top 100 universities (most recently 78th in the QS World University Rankings 2020).

But this isn’t just about us: the North East stands to benefit hugely from our success and from that of all the universities in the region: Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland.

It’s estimated that international students contribute around £700 million a year to the North East economy. As we and others look to attract more students from overseas (our target is 35% by 2027) this income will grow significantly.

Education and training is another valuable export industry. We continue to benefit from English being the international language of choice and the long-standing reputation of UK education. Many of our alumni hold senior roles in government and industry worldwide.

The value of education exports to the UK was almost £20 billion in 2016, and the value of transnational education within that, though still relatively small (£1.8 billion), was up 73% on 2010, showing the growing attractiveness of this option to overseas students.

We also need to tackle the big challenges facing our home economy – not least the productivity gap. Universities are well-placed on this front as we collaborate with industry to develop new technologies, research new ways of working and deliver high-level skills for the workforce of the future.

The Northern Accelerator programme, which brings together Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland Universities, is helping researchers to spin out and commercialise ideas, leading to the formation of potentially high-growth, research-intensive businesses linked to the research expertise here in the North East.

The Intensive Industrial Innovation Programme, which involves Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria and Teesside universities, is helping SMEs access academics, PhD students and research facilities to address their research challenges, leading in turn to the development of new products and services.

And the Durham City Incubator, a partnership between ourselves, Durham County Council and New College Durham, is supporting and encouraging graduate and student enterprise: helping our graduates stay in the North East and creating new and better jobs.

We’re all aware of the challenges facing us, but working together as a region we can drive success. Universities aren’t businesses in a conventional sense. We don’t have shareholders, nor do we seek to maximise profits. But we do deliver jobs, value and innovation. We are major enterprises in the modern economy. We are anchors for the future of the North East.

North East partnership welcomes Government’s tourism sector deal announcement

A consortium of North East partners has today (Friday 28 June) welcomed the Government’s tourism sector deal announcement and set out the region’s intention to bid to become a Tourism Zone.

Part of the UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy, the new tourism sector deal will stimulate further growth and improve the productivity and performance of the sector across the country.

Developed in partnership with the British Tourist Authority and Industry, it will support the creation of 10,000 apprenticeships, 130,000 new hotel rooms – 75% of those being built outside of London – a new Tourism Data Hub to better target overseas visitors and improvements to disabled facilities and access to destinations across the country.

Another key feature of the tourism sector deal are plans to pilot up to five Tourism Zones to drive visitor numbers across the country. Each Tourism Zone will receive Government support to grow its local visitor economy through various initiatives, including product and promotion development, mentoring support for businesses and digital skills training.

A consortium of North East organisations including NewcastleGateshead Initiative, North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), North of Tyne Combined Authority, North East Combined Authority and regional partners have today indicated their commitment to bid for the North East to become a Tourism Zone.

Andrew Hodgson, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership said: “As well as supporting thousands of jobs across the region, tourism generates millions of pounds for the local economy.

“Our cultural, heritage and natural environment assets, which include two world heritage sites, are important drivers for the local economy. Special events like Kynren in Country Durham and the Great North Run in Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside, attract visitors from all over the world who spend money in our hotels, restaurants, shops and businesses.

“Government’s tourism sector deal gives us an opportunity to further strengthen our tourism offer in the region by investing in new products, infrastructure and skills to position us as one of the best destinations to visit in the UK.

“The Strategic Economic Plan for the North East shows the importance of improving skills to boost the economy. If we are successful in our bid to become a Tourism Zone we can deliver a greater tourism experience and help support growth in the sector by investing in people to create more and better jobs.”

Leader of Northumberland County Council, Cllr Peter Jackson, and North of Tyne Combined Authority Portfolio Lead for Place and Productivity said: “One of the most distinctive features of tourism in the North East of England is the sheer diversity of our offer, across a range of natural, environmental, heritage and cultural assets.

“As an integral part of the region’s economy, we see tremendous scope to continue to enhance and improve the quality of the whole visitor experience, from a domestic and inbound perspective, with the tourism sector deal providing a great opportunity for us to further strengthen the way we work together to achieve this.

“It’s absolutely essential therefore that we have the right infrastructure for our visitors both in terms of transport and digital connectivity, before, during and after their stay.

“We want visitors to have the best possible experience, and get the most out of their visit here to ensure they come back time and time again.”

Councillor Simon Henig, Leader of Durham County Council and Vice-Chair of the North East Leadership Board, Thematic Lead for Finance and Skills and Employment of the North East Combined Authority, said: “There is huge potential for the visitor economy in the North East to grow and a deal for this sector is most welcome.

“We are developing attractions and infrastructure that matches the increasing demands of residents and visitors, as well as promoting ourselves to investors, businesses and students from outside the region.

“We already have world-class visitor attractions including the NewcastleGateshead Quayside, the Great North Run, World Heritage Sites, the North East coast, the Lumiere light festival, Alnwick Garden and Angel of the North, to name just a few.

“Substantial investments have already been made in the Great Exhibition of the North, The Sill visitor centre on Hadrian’s Wall, sporting events such as the European Rugby and Cricket World Cup, and historic attractions such as Auckland Castle and Kynren.

“This is being matched with more and better hotels, restaurants, conference facilities, and visitor centres as well as better coordination and communication of the region’s offer.”

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination management and marketing agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement of the tourism sector deal and the opportunity it presents to work with partners in the region to further strengthen our tourism offer. Attracting visitors to the North East creates a sense of place which benefits local communities, as well as changing perceptions and attitudes of the region.

“The tourism industry is already the fourth largest sector in the North East with an attractive visitor offer of vibrant and cultural city centres through to beautiful countryside and coastlines.

“If successful with our bid, a Tourism Zone will strengthen the sector and amplify the wider economic and social benefits of encouraging people to move and work here, students to study here and businesses to invest here. It will also enable us to build on past and planned developments in the sector, such as the new £260m arena, conference and exhibition centre on Gateshead Quays which will put the region in an even stronger position to attract major national and international events.”

To read the more about the Government’s new tourism sector deal, visit www.gov.uk.

Looking to the future of the North East economy

We all know about the North East’s magnificent heritage, and the engineering feats that once made the region a global industrial power.

But our plan for the region’s future doesn’t rely on the past. Instead, it talks about the strengths we have today, and the innovations which will enable our economy to thrive now and in the future.

Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today: that’s the thinking behind the North East Strategic Economic Plan – the blueprint for creating 100,000 more and better jobs in our region by 2024.

The Plan draws on the strength of our digital and energy sectors, and the work that’s making the North East stand out in health and life sciences, and advanced manufacturing. These are the areas which will drive the North East economy forwards.

Read the North East Strategic Economic Plan.