First cohort at Career College pushes ahead

From left, Northumberland Career College students Nicole Armstrong, Hannah Brooks, Jade Wilson, Nathan Thewlis, Katie Dolan and Chardonnay Summerfield.
From left, Northumberland Career College students Nicole Armstrong, Hannah Brooks, Jade Wilson, Nathan Thewlis, Katie Dolan and Chardonnay Summerfield.

A 16-year-old from Alnwick is among the first cohort to study rural tourism as part of an innovative learning model at Northumberland College.

Launched in September, Northumberland Career College is a new opportunity for 14 to 19-year-olds that combines academic studies with practical learning and work experience.

Career colleges are a national initiative conceived by former Education Secretary, Lord Baker, who passionately believes that high-quality technical, practical and vocational training should be offered to students from age 14.

Helen Norris, director of 14-16 and Career College at Northumberland College, said: “In selecting subject specialisms for Northumberland Career College, we reviewed the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Strategic Economic Plan, which highlights the importance of tourism and STEM.

“In Northumberland, almost 12 per cent of the workforce is involved in tourism and a challenge for the sector is finding qualified staff and in the engineering sector, an ageing workforce means thousands of skilled roles will need replacing in future years.”

The first cohort of learners, who are based at the Kirkley Hall campus five days a week, are currently working towards their one-year Career College rural tourism qualification.

Hannah Brooks, 16, from Alnwick, said: “Northumberland Career College gives young people like me more chance to explore career options and get the chance to decide what it is they actually want to do through proper work experience, visits and hands-on learning opportunities. The course has opened up my eyes to so many potential career paths that I wouldn’t have thought possible or were for me before doing this course.”

Northumberland Career College is now welcoming applications from 14 to 19-year-olds for tourism and land-based, construction, engineering and hospitality for the next academic year, starting in September.

A range of employers including Northumberland Tourism, Kier, Gentoo and 21 Group have given their support to Northumberland Career College to ensure students develop skills that are wholly current and relevant to the world of work.

Anyone wishing to find out more may visit www.northumberland.ac.uk/careercollege or come to a careers and information event on Wednesday, February 15, 6pm to 7.30pm, at Northumberland College’s Ashington or Kirkley Hall campuses.