Colleges across the Tees Valley have received a multi-million-pound boost for skills – with green industries front and centre.

The Department for Education has granted £2.5million of funding to Darlington College, The Education Training Collective, Middlesbrough College, Hartlepool College of Further Education, the Learning Curve Group Limited, and the City of Sunderland College.

It’s part of a wider drive to boost skills in green jobs as well as in digital, construction and manufacturing sectors.

The funding will also make sure more people can access Higher Technical Qualifications – which sit between A level, T levels and degrees – to gain in demand skills including digital, health care and engineering as an alternative to a traditional three-year degree.

It comes on the heels of Green Careers Week last week.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “We are well and truly the beating heart of the UK’s green industry and push to Net Zero. We’ve the huge Net Zero Teesside project on its way, SeAH Wind under construction and huge potential for a hydrogen revolution right on our doorstep.

“We need young people in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool to have the skills, knowhow and experience to take on the thousands of jobs which are coming through these game changing projects. We also need them to safeguard our world-leading chemical sector – and lead the way in ensuring our people are healthy, happy and cared for.

“It’s great to see more money released to help this along – and I hope it will be focussed into the areas where our region needs it most.”

Higher Technical Qualifications are designed with employers in a bid to equip students with the skills they need to go onto further study, or straight into a good job. 

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said:“This investment is about boosting local industries, building people’s skills and ultimately futureproofing our economy and the career prospects of the next generation. 
 
“Our local skills projects will bring together regional organisations, businesses and education providers to respond to the specific needs of employers, building an increasingly skilled workforce and growing local economies. 
 
“Whether it is green skills, construction, engineering or digital, thousands more people can now gain the skills they need to secure good jobs closer to home. These are long-term plans that will ensure every area can have a brighter future.” 

Jane Gratton, Deputy Director of Public Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce, added: “Businesses are crying out for more people with technical skills to fill the great jobs we have today and new ones in the developing green economy. 

“It’s vital that everyone can access the training they need locally to grasp these opportunities.”

A bakery which has already made global headlines, is on a mission to make great bread and kick-start the careers of Teesside teenagers as it opens its new shop.  

There was worldwide interest in Guisborough’s Brickyard Bakery after it invited people to bake their Christmas cakes in its ovens, provide a warm room for members of its community struggling with their fuel bills and make breakfasts for children on their exam day. 

Now the not-for-profit Community Interest Company is opening a second bakery – in Middlesbrough’s Dundas Shopping Centre – and owner Ed Hamilton-Trewhitt said there has been nothing like it before. 

As well as selling affordable artisan bread, pastries and savouries, Ed will be providing year-long paid internships for six young people who struggled at school.

“It’s for kids who don’t do well sitting behind desks and learning in conventional ways.  But they respond fantastically to getting their hands dirty, working and producing something,” said the 55-year-old who was born in Redcar, left school with one qualification in metal work, worked in some of London’s top kitchens, cooked for royalty, opened restaurants, taught at college and studied at Teesside University. 

As well as the interns, the new bakery will employ six members of staff including teaching assistants.  They will help the teenagers study for their qualifications in food hygiene and retail. 

The Brickyard Bakery is moving into the unit vacated by the Cooplands Bakery earlier this year and its arrival completes a circle for Ed who started selling his bread eight years ago in the Dundas Indoor Market. 

“Dundas is fantastic and it’s a great site for us.  We see it is an important hub in Middlesbrough.  I’m really excited about being involved in encouraging more and more people to go there.”

Richard Wilson – Senior Associate with Teesside commercial property agent Dodds Brown, which manages the Dundas Shopping Centre on behalf of its owner – said the arrival of the Brickyard Bakery marks an important step in the reinvention of Middlesbrough town centre.

“More and more people will be attracted to live and work there as the investment planned by the Middlesbrough Development Corporation takes effect. 

“These new communities need services, amenities and shops on their doorstep if Middlesbrough follows the concept of the 15-minute city which town planners are already adopting throughout the UK and the rest of the world.”

He added: “With its strong community values, independent retailers like Brickyard Bakery are the very embodiment of this concept. Ed – and the other independents who I’m confident will follow his lead – are essential to build a new and much-needed identity for Middlesbrough.”

The new bakery “helps create the full picture,” said Ed, who opened the Brickyard Bakery and Academy in Guisborough in 2014, selling artisan bread and providing courses for children, novices and bakers looking to improve their skills.  “At Guisborough young people can get engaged in baking and creating fantastic things.  If they are interested in it as a career, now that we’ve opening in Middlesbrough, they don’t have to go to a big college – which can be quite intimidating for some of them.

“Instead they will have the opportunity of coming somewhere that is specifically designed to be supportive and encouraging and gives them that 12 months of real work experience.  That means they will  feel a little bit more comfortable and confident when they go out into the wide world.”

Both bakeries, said Ed, will be selling “real bread at realistic prices. We refuse to have improvers, enhancers or additives in our bread. This is not just the preserve of the well-off middle classes.  It’s absolutely for everybody.”  

Ed already has plans to double the number of internships offered at Middlesbrough and is confident the model developed there will be repeated elsewhere.  “I want to prove that this works and then work with people to roll it out,” he said.  “Teesside could easily do with another two or three and ultimately we don’t need to stop at Teesside.  The whole of the North East is desperate for real work for the kids that are coming through but don’t have much hope or future.”

Construction work has officially got under way on a brand new £12m centre for leading workforce training provider TTE Technical, part of the Middlesbrough College Group.

Chair of Governors, Robert Davies, was on hand to cut the first sod on the site at Middlehaven, central Middlesbrough.

The new facility, which is due to open in September 2024, will train over 300 full-time students, 300 apprentices and 500 adults each year, alongside a thriving international cohort of students.

The state-of-the-art centre is being built by Morgan Sindall Construction and will provide over 3,000 sq m of space over two storeys.

Its facilities will include:

  • 7 Large multifunction/multidiscipline workshops to provide for Instrumentation, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Mechanical, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, Process Engineering and Net Zero Low Carbon Technology Workspaces
  • 7 breakout classrooms and study spaces
  • Large Conference Room and staff workspaces
  • Student social and welfare areas

The new centre is being built to sustainable design principles with features including a full photovoltaic solar roof. It also offers easy access to wider campus facilities and transport links.

The project was awarded via the Pagabo Medium Works Framework.

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College Group, said: “This day has been almost three years in the planning since we started looking at options for the refurbishment or relocation of the current TTE facility at South Bank.

“Our new facility will enable TTE to continue providing high quality engineering and process operations training to a wide range of learners for decades to come, with the right industrial skills and behaviours to easily transition into the workplace.”

Courses which will be hosted at the new centre will include a range of programmes for school leavers, adults, employers and international students.

Subject specialisms at the site will include Mechanical Engineering, Electrical, Instrumentation, Process, Wind Turbine, and Laboratory courses.

The centre will help TTE continue to provide high quality TTE apprenticeship programmes to a wide range of employers across the North East.

Short courses it will host will include Electrical Safety, Hydraulic Systems, Virtual Process Control Room Operations, Safety Passport, Leadership and Management and many more.

Zoe Lewis said: “Once complete, the facility will complement the already extensive STEM offer at our campus in Middlehaven and cement the college as one of the UK’s largest Engineering training providers in the country with state of the art, ‘real scale’ industrial equipment and industrial specialist staff, which will support the region’s existing and emerging businesses.

“We’re particularly pleased that the new site will also allow us to expand into new sectors such as clean, green and renewable energy, retrofit, zero carbon and offshore high voltage, securing technical skills that are in demand and valued by local employers and giving young people greater access to the careers which will shape all our futures.”

The development is being financed by a combination of grant support from the Department for Education’s FE Capital Transformation Fund, Middlesbrough Council alongside College cash reserves and borrowings.

Rob Davies said: “It gives me great pleasure to start the development of what will be a crucial part of Middlesbrough College’s estate.

“TTE already provides essential training and key skills across a wide range of different sectors and the new building will enable it to do even more.”

Alex Isted, area director from Morgan Sindall Construction, who was also present at the ceremony, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Middlesbrough College to deliver this exciting new training centre from our North East business.

“The training that will be delivered at this facility when complete will help create a skilled workforce for the sectors that will be instrumental in net-zero targets being reached. We share this approach within our own sector of construction, and throughout the build programme we will deploy our Intelligent Solutions approach to reduce carbon wherever possible.

“It was a privilege to welcome along the Chair of Governors and other key stakeholders to our site to celebrate a key milestone for our work on this new centre for TTE. As the project progresses, we look forward to engaging with the college and local community further, creating employment and training opportunities working with local schools to demonstrate the fantastic opportunities a career in construction offers.”

To find out more about TTE Technical and the work which it does, head to the TTE website.

Teesside teenagers training to become joiners and plumbers have been given a special behind the scenes tour of Teesside’s new showpiece Centre Square building.

They are learning their trades at Middlesbrough College through Northern Skills which works with more than 2,000 employers in the North East and Yorkshire.

The visit to Six Centre Square was the first time some of the newer trainees had visited a major construction project.

Their lecturer Tom Hammond said: “It was great for them to be able to get an understanding of what’s involved in such a big job. The first thing we talk about when they start with us is safety and they could see that safety is also the number one priority on site.”

There are nearly 100 students at the college training to be joiners and the departments teaching other trades have similar numbers.

“There’s so much work going on in and around Middlesbrough that the future looks really bright for them,” said Mr Hammond.

Seventeen-year-old David Carsley from Middlesbrough, who is a Level 2 learner in Plumbing, said: “I wasn’t too sure why I picked plumbing but I’m really glad I did and it was great to visit Centre Square to see what’s happening there.”

The main contractor for Six Centre Square is Bowmer+Kirkland (B+K) which has a North East regional office near Sunderland. B+K’s Project Manager Tony Knott hosted the students’ visit. “It was good to see so many of them showing an interest in the construction industry. I wish them well for the future,” he said.

B+K has sub-contracted 90% of the project to businesses based in the region. More than 60% of the work has gone to companies which are located within 30 miles of Middlesbrough.

The insurance giant AXA UK will move 450 of its staff to the new Centre Square building when it is finished early next year.

Although AXA is taking up much of the four-storey 40,000 sq ft building,14,000 sq ft is still available for other occupiers.

There is also a small amount of unoccupied space in the first phase of the development where a number of major companies including GB Bank, Firstsource and XPS Pensions have moved in.

Tomorrow's joiners and plumbers visiting the Six Centre Square building

The Centre Square project was launched six years ago by developer Ashall Projects, in partnership with Middlesbrough Council, after a study found that the town was failing to attract good white collar jobs because of an absence of Grade A office space.

Mark Ashall, the Managing Director of Ashall Projects, said the project is already benefitting the Tees Valley on a number of levels.

“The businesses re-locating to Centre Square have space to grow and – so importantly now – are based in Grade A energy efficient buildings,” he said. “These businesses are recruiting staff who like being in offices which make the most of natural light and they are also able to enjoy the advantages of working in the centre of town.

“Lots of local companies have been involved in the construction of the three buildings and I have been delighted to see that they have taken the opportunity to recruit apprentices.

“Finally,” he added, “We plan to add more buildings in Centre Square and wouldn’t it be great if some of those young joiners and plumbers worked on them?”

Details of the next phase of the development are due to be announced soon. Outline planning permission is already in place.

To discuss opportunities in Centre Square contact Stephen Brown at Dodds Brown on 01642 244130 or Alex Hailey at CBRE on 0113 394 8814.

Mayor Andy Preston has welcomed the Head Master of Eton College to Middlesbrough after plans were announced to open a new sixth form in the town.

Eton Head Master Simon Henderson was joined on Wednesday’s visit by Star Academies’ Director of Education Lisa Crausby.

Eton and Star last week confirmed their intention to open new colleges in Middlesbrough, Dudley and Oldham.

The new college in Middlesbrough is planned to open in 2025, subject to funding and all other legal requirements.

Eton and Star would develop the admission criteria for the new college, with both institutions committed to giving opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through their partnership.

Mayor Preston and Deputy Mayor Mieka Smiles gave the representatives from Eton and Star a brief tour of the Middlehaven area, to show how a new college could be part of the area’s transformation.

Mayor Preston said: “Our area is going to see a population boom in the 16-19 age category in the coming years.

“The Tees Valley area will soon have an extra 5,000 young people in that bracket and it’s clear our area will need a new college.

“I’m determined that a new college comes to Middlesbrough and the national news story that Eton and Star want to open a sixth form here fits perfectly with the fact we will need an additional sixth form.

“The partnership’s proposed college focusing on bright but deprived kids will fantastically complement our brilliant existing schools and colleges.

“This would be massive for the North East and be another huge piece in a monstrous social and physical regeneration jigsaw that is transforming our town’s heart.

“The potential of the wider Middlesbrough area is gigantic and I’m ecstatic Eton and Star Academies have recognised that. Following last week’s announcement councils across the country have contacted Star desperately trying to find out how they can be part of this story.

“A new sixth form of this nature would help us get more Teesside children into top universities.

“Central Middlesbrough is already home to the world-class Teesside University and amazing further education and specialist art colleges.

“Welcoming Eton and Star into the mix would cement Middlesbrough as a regional capital for educational standards and the ambition of young people.”

Eton and Star intend to bid in the next wave of the Department for Education’s Free School Programme, a process expected to get under way in the next few months.

If the bid is successful, Middlesbrough Council would explore the plans further alongside the existing education institutions in the town.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (9 September) visited a long-standing Tees Valley manufacturer who has boosted its workforce by taking on eight new apprentices in two months – following years of successful recruitment.

Middlesbrough’s Lionweld Kennedy Flooring has more than 100 years of experience in the design, fabrication, manufacture, and supply of open steel grating, handrailing and stair treads.

Since 2016, with the launch of the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy, eight previous apprentices have already progressed through the scheme, with the firm taking them on full-time, and supporting some to secure degrees.

Now it is swelling its ranks and going even further in supporting young people, with many more joining the firm in July and August alone and some vacancies still to be filled, in roles including engineering design, engineering operations and welding, as well as in business administration roles.

They will undergo training with the Middlesbrough-based Northern Skills Group – part of Middlesbrough College Group – as part of their personal development with some currently completing their HNC, with the view to progressing onto degree apprenticeships and permanent members of staff.

The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority can support businesses to take on apprentices through its Apprenticeship Support Grant. This enables small and medium-sized businesses to create opportunities in sectors facing high demand and growth with support of up to £3,000 per apprentice. 

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “At this time more than ever, as we continue to recover our economy from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we need to make sure our region’s young people aren’t getting left behind.

“Lionweld Kennedy is going above and beyond in securing these new apprentices and, along with our region’s training providers like the Northern Skills Group, are helping to give them the skills they need to thrive in good-quality careers right here in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. It was fantastic to meet them and see first-hand how the new recruits are getting on in their apprenticeships.

“I’ve long said university isn’t for everybody, and there are plenty of options for training and study, including apprenticeships. These also benefit businesses too, who can develop hard-working, reliable employees if they take a chance and give them a leg-up.

“To help them do that, we’re still running the Apprenticeship Support Grant scheme to make it even easier to get people trained up and in-post, helping to boost our businesses and economy. I’d urge all SMEs looking to grow to support a young person and see what support is available to you.”

One apprentice who has seen success at Lionweld Kennedy is Jacob Marshall, apprentice draughtsman, aged 19 from Redcar.

Jacob said: “I’m really grateful for this opportunity to not only work and earn but also achieve a qualification that will give me a whole career. Lionweld Kennedy is well set up for apprentices, so we are all supported from day one and I feel like part of the team.

“Many of my friends still don’t know what they’ll do when they leave college, so it feels great to have a clear path to follow.”

Mark Henderson, Business Development Director at Lionweld Kennedy said “We recruit for such a wide range of roles including technical, head office departments and factory based, so to be able to bring young people into the business who become trained in their individual specialism is a huge advantage.

“We’re particularly proud of our retention rate and how many apprentices stay within the business, adding value for many years in some cases.”

Dawn Smith, Skills Development Manager at Northern Skills Group, said: “Northern Skills Group has been working with Lionweld to build apprenticeship programmes that create a sustainable workforce for the future of the business. We’ve helped Lionweld build the skills it needs to grow by creating technical and professional skills programmes and through our apprenticeship recruitment service. It’s fantastic to see the business reap the rewards of investing in skills.”

PD Ports, Statutory Harbour Authority for the River Tees and the largest private employer in the Tees Valley, has joined forces with the Tees Valley Education Multi-Academy Trust to create an Enterprise Charter for children and young people across Teesside.

This shared commitment to do more for the region’s young people will see PD Ports and Tees Valley Education Trust, along with other key partners and stakeholders, including Teesside University, work together to develop career-led learning opportunities from primary years to post 18.

After recently launching the most ambitious recruitment drive in the UK ports sector in which the port operator set out plans to recruit 50 new apprentices across its operations, PD Ports is now accelerating its commitment to raising aspirations, and inspiring young people from age five upwards about maritime careers and promoting local pride linked to the River Tees.

Kirsten Donkin, Head of PR, Marketing and Communications at PD Ports, explained how the partnership has been part of the port operator’s plans since the successful launch of PD Ports’ innovative Teesport Explorers program in 2019.

“At PD Ports we already do a tremendous amount of work to raise aspirations of young people,” said Kirsten. “We work closely and collaboratively with local education institutions and training providers such as the High Tide Foundation and the Tees Valley Logistics Academy to inform 12-18 year olds of the range of exciting opportunities available across the maritime industry.

“However, we also recognise that by the age of 14, young people have already conditioned themselves to believe there are certain jobs they can do and those which they can’t; many of which are based around gender stereotypes and family influences. We must do more to tackle these misplaced perceptions.

“That was our initial thought process behind launching the Teesport Explorers program – getting young people down to the port to see our operations and meet our people. It’s all about providing consistent engagement throughout childhood and into early adulthood in order to ignite their imagination and show them if they believe it, they can achieve it when choosing a career.

“There is a huge sense of positivity in our region at the moment, the future prospects around investment and jobs are very encouraging and with a projected 32,000 jobs associated with Freeport status over the next 25 years, we need to ensure local people are aware of the opportunities and are equipped with the right skills to benefit.

“We share in those values and thought processes with the Tees Valley Education Trust and now look forward to working together to give young people in our region the futures they deserve; putting ‘levelling up’ into action and bridging any future skills gaps.”

Tees Valley Education is a Multi-Academy Trust and sponsor, which is currently made up of five academies across Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, who share a deep commitment to improving outcomes for all children and their communities.

CEO of the Trust, Katrina Morley, explained how she believes the partnership with PD Ports will deliver real value to primary school pupils across the region.

“By working in collaboration with the biggest employer in the region, and Teesside University, we are able to construct a variety of curriculum, skills, experiential and project-based learning for all of our children and young people,” said Katrina.

“The ability to learn about real world employment opportunities, visit a range of sites, experience being at the forefront of the exciting investment in the area, will have long lasting impact on the life chances, aspirations and choices for all.

“The shared commitment we have to investing in our communities is being realised through the project which will support Year One children to adults. Children hold the keys to the future… but we must help them to unlock a range of possibilities with them.”

In April, PD Ports secured a £2,000 donation for the Tees Valley Education Trust after winning the NEPIC Communities and Reputation Award and donating its winnings to kick-start the Enterprise Charter.

PD Ports was commended at the prestigious awards for its outstanding demonstration of community support and social responsibility throughout 2020.

Professor Brian Cox CBE visited Teesside today (Monday) to see the extent of £20m investment that will transform the region’s technical skills.

He said the investment by Middlesbrough College – which includes a new state-of-the-art Digital Centre and expansion of its industry-leading STEM centre – will put young people across the region at the “forefront of the new industrial revolution”.

The investment forms part of Middlesbrough College’s role in the North East Institute of Technology (IoT) – a collaboration between further education providers, universities and employers who are recognised as leaders in technical training.

Professor Cox added: “Middlesbrough College is well ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering technical training and there’s a real understanding here of what industry needs.

“The opening of its STEM centre back in 2015 was ground-breaking and genuinely surpassed my expectations – so when I heard about the new plans, I had to come back and learn more.

“We need more apprentices and STEM graduates and facilities like this and the people here will be the driving force behind that – everyone will benefit from this investment.”

Staff and students welcomed the famous physicist to the £100m college campus, where he had the chance to speak with young aspiring scientists and engineers who are already benefiting from world class training in construction, engineering, manufacturing and supply chain industry skills.

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive, said: “It’s incredibly humbling to welcome Professor Cox back to Middlesbrough College, seven years after he opened our £20m STEM training centre.

“Since then, the College has helped transform this region’s economic competitiveness and this new investment will enhance learning opportunities available to our students and equip them with the technical skills needed to secure high value jobs.”

Supporting its delivery of higher-level technical training, the £20m STEM training centre is being expanded to include a new Higher Education centre comprising 11,800 sq. ft of teaching space, IT facilities, learning resource centre and staff offices.

Construction is also well underway on the new multi-million-pound Digital Centre that will host industry-leading programming suites, cyber labs, video editing suites, a games design suite and a full TV and film studio. 

Launching this autumn, the centre will deliver digital T Levels courses covering skills in games development, IT, computing networking, software programming, cyber security, digital video production and digital video production.

As part of its investment, the College is also launching MCClick, a new free laptop loan device scheme for students to help eradicate digital poverty, ensuring all of its students have equipment to support their studies. The scheme will help learners develop key digital skills to boost employability and support them in their future careers.

Also awaiting new students come September will be a state-of-the-art Construction Skills Workshop that will provide additional space both inside and out for construction students to hone their skills.

Having successfully trialled T Levels for the government, the College was formally chosen earlier this year to launch a full range of the two-year qualifications and is the only college in Tees Valley to deliver T Levels from September this year.

The new technically-focussed qualifications that have been developed with employers to equip learners with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

Further works include refurbishing the College library to develop a new social space for students at the heart of the campus as well as opening a dedicated education space in Middlesbrough Town Centre to take learning into the community.

A multi-million pound digital facility that will transform Teesside’s tech scene is taking shape at Middlesbrough College.

Diggers are on site and work is underway on the new three-storey, state-of-the-art Digital Centre – part of the College’s successful Government-approved bid to deliver pioneering new technical qualifications, T Levels.

The purpose-built facility will be home to around 2,000 sq. m. of learning space including a dedicated film and TV studio, industry-leading programming suites, cyber labs, special effects rooms, games design suite and video editing suites.

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College, said: “There’s a real demand for digital skills across all industries, it’s part of every business and is growing considerably – not just in the Tees Valley but nationally too.

“The start of work on our dedicated Digital Centre is another level of guarantee that Middlesbrough College remains at the forefront of digital skills development, delivering cutting edge T Levels courses that will transform the industry.

“We’ve already been working with digital businesses across Teesside for many months to successfully trial T Levels placements and this dedicated digital destination means students can look forward to even more opportunities to enhance their career prospects.”

T Levels include a minimum of 315 hours of industrial placement and students will have the opportunity to work on live briefs from leading digital businesses in the region.

Digital courses will cover skills in computing networking, web and app development, cyber security, digital video production and games development. 

Zoe added: “Teesside’s digital cluster is growing considerably but as we know, through our relationship with local businesses, there is a real skills shortage in the sector.

“T Levels are fantastic routes for school leavers who’ve finished GCSEs and want to get qualifications on par with A Levels with hands-on experience that will make them attractive to employers.

“Our Digital Centre will transform the learning opportunities available to these students and equip them with the technical skills needed to secure high value jobs.”

Anne-Marie Chiswell, associate director of visual performing arts and computing at ‎Middlesbrough College, said: “As much as our role is to build digital skills for the future, it’s also about inspiring the next generation to really explore digital as a career option and promote the opportunities available to them.

“The digital community here in the North East is one of the fastest developing in the UK and there’s so much potential on our doorstep.”

Learners from Ghana are visiting Teesside’s TTE to receive world-class training to prepare them for work in their home country’s oil fields.

A group of 15 technicians from global offshore oil and gas company MODEC arrived in Middlesbrough in November and have been learning from TTE’s expert tutors at the world renowned centre.

TTE’s staff have worked hard to make sure the Ghanaians – who have jobs critical to global energy supply – could learn safely and without interruption throughout the COVID pandemic.

John Cooke, operations manager at TTE, explained: “The fact that we get learners from all over the world at TTE’s Middlesbrough facility just goes to show the reputation we have on Teesside for technical skills training like this.

“Our guests from Ghana are learning on a variety of programmes that will equip them with the skills to be technicians with various specialisms, including instrumentation, electrical, mechanical and process.

“They’re with us for six months, in which time we’ll cover a lot of ground to prepare them for jobs back on some of the world’s most strategically important floating oil platforms off the coast of Ghana.”

TTE’s relationship with MODEC goes back a number of years, and Boro-based teaching staff have previously visited Ghana to help the company establish training programmes of its own.

This is the first time visiting the UK for all of the learners, and many have not been outside of their home country at all.

Desmond Kumi, 27, a mechanical Technician and one of the group, said: “The training at TTE is at a very high technical level.

“The use of actual oil and gas equipment for training is of real value for our current qualification, but also our future careers. The knowledge, past experience and enthusiasm from the TTE trainers is exceptional. We all feel very lucky and happy to be here.”

John added: “COVID has presented a challenge over the last year but we’ve stepped up to that and put in place measures to make sure we can deliver our training. It means we’ve used technology, applied new hygiene and safety systems and carefully planned the delivery of practical teaching sessions.

“While their free time outside of studying has been quite different to previous programmes, it’s meant our MODEC cohort can progress and achieve internationally respected qualifications, including those from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.

“Their training programmes are bespoke to MODEC and we’re really proud of the fact we work with international companies of this scale to provide the skills they need.”