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SPECIAL REPORT: EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

2 SPECIAL REPORT: EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

BUILDING A SCHOOL

A LIGHT BULB MOMENT

IN IT TOGETHER

MASTERS OF ARTS

Gentoo puts its money where its mouth is

How to transform chief executives

Nissan’s training partnership

Making entrepreneurs out of the creative


Five outstanding colleges, one award-winning university – OneDoor is the entry to learning and professional development for individuals and businesses. Our service helps individuals identify exactly the right training to strengthen their employment prospects, while businesses can expect a more productive workforce.

We can even provide subsidies* to help you access the training that will take you or your business further. Contact OneDoor to find out what we can offer. T 0845 463 0101 E onedoor@tees.ac.uk W onedoor.co.uk *Terms and conditions apply to funding assistance.


CONTENTS 04 NEWS Activity in business, training and education

10 NEW MAN AND NEW CHALLENGES TyneMet’s incoming principle

12 TEACHING THE REGION

SPECIAL REPORT:

EDUCATION, TRANING AND BUSINESS

WELCOME One of the main factors to determine the success of a business is the quality of its workforce and one of the crucial building blocks in the creation of a first class workforce is rigorous and extensive education and training. In a global workplace which is probably more competitive than it has ever been before, our schools, colleges and universities have a key role to play in ensuring that our young people receive a world class education. But business cannot abdicate all responsibility: it must work in close partnership with the world of education to make clear what its priorities and requirements are and, as far as it possibly can, assist the academics in delivering these. In this issue of BQ2 we look at some of the work being done in training and education in North East England, from the youngest age, through to workforce training. We interview some of the key players in education and business to uncover the main issues and take a hard look at some of the steps being taken to address them. We believe that by doing this we will stimulate and further a debate which is so crucial to our economic well-being.

Peter Jackson looks at the business/ education relationship

16 LEARNING THE HARD WAY Peter Walls on a new Sunderland Academy

20 MAKING LEADERS WOBBLE Jane Turner on training the boardroom

24 A CULTURED APPROACH NUBS making a business out of art

28 MANUFACTURING PARTNERSHIP

CONTACTS ROOM501 LTD Christopher March Managing Director e: chris@room501.co.uk George Cheung Director e: george@room501.co.uk Euan Underwood Director e: euan@room501.co.uk Bryan Hoare Director e: bryan@room501.co.uk EDITORIAL Peter Jackson Editor e: peter@bq-magazine.co.uk DESIGN & PRODUCTION Euan Underwood, Kevin Waddell e: studio@room501.co.uk PHOTOGRAPHY KG Photography e: info@kgphotography.co.uk NR Photography e: nicky@nrphotography.co.uk ADVERTISING If you wish to advertise with us please contact our sales team on 0191 419 3221, or email sales@room501.co.uk

How Nissan and a college work together

31 MATTER OF VOCATION Michael Bretherick on education for all

34 ONE DOOR ON TEESSIDE Laura Woods on beating recession

38 MASTERING ENTERPRISE A new course in Sunderland

41 DOING THE BUSINESS Jeff Milburn on meeting business needs

46 SOURCING APPRENTICES South Tyneside training

48 MAKING CHANGES The power of training

49 LEADING BY EXAMPLE

room501 Contract Publishing Ltd, 10 Baird Close, Stephenson Ind Est, Washington, Tyne & Wear NE37 3HL www.room501.co.uk room501 was formed from a partnership of directors who, combined, have many years of experience in contract publishing, print, marketing, sales and advertising and distribution. We are a passionate, dedicated company that strives to help you to meet your overall business needs and requirements. All contents copyright © 2010 room501 Ltd. All rights reserved. While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies, howsoever caused. No liability can be accepted for illustrations, photographs, artwork or advertising materials while in transmission or with the publisher or their agents. All information is correct at time of going to print, January 2010.

How one boss leads the way

50 CONTACTS

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BQ Magazine is published quarterly by room501 Ltd.

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For all ages and all levels, businesses and other organisations are taking advantage of training and education opportunities to upskill. Peter Jackson reviews recent developments >>Crime could pay

>> What’s the big idea? One hundred and fifty students from The King’s Launching the One Big Idea Academy in Middlesbrough have launched a new competition: UK-wide enterprise competition that will be judged by 150 year 7 BBC Dragons Duncan Bannatyne and Doug Richard. students from The ‘One Big Idea’ competition that will address The King’s development issues in Malawi, was launched by the Academy in year 7 students on Social Enterprise Day (19 November) Middlesbrough. who gathered on their school yard in the shape of the number ‘1’ wearing the colours of the Malawi flag. The competition aims to find the next social entrepreneur and will engage people of all ages to create the next Global Ethics’ One branded ethical product to directly improve the lives of thousands of people in Malawi. The winning product will be sold in selected Co-operative food stores across the UK. The King’s Academy is one of the first schools to sign up to the competition, which will see students identifying a problem in Malawi using resources provided and come up with a product that can be developed and sold. The winning idea will be produced and 100% of Global Ethics’ profits from its sale will be used to tackle the problem. The One Big Idea competition, which is a partnership between Global Ethics’ One, Make Your Mark, The Co-operative Group and Enterprise Network (Specialist Schools and Academies Trust) asked students in school and colleges as well as people in the workplace to take part. Louise Kempton, head of the North East region at Enterprise UK, the organisation behind the Make Your Mark campaign said: “One Big Idea is what social enterprise is all about – turning innovative ideas into reality whilst making a tangible difference to people’s lives. “It combines The Co-operative retail expertise, Global Ethics’ innovative product development and Enterprise UK’s network of young people with their brilliant entrepreneurial ideas.” Sean Ord, enterprise coordinator at The King’s Academy said: “Our students were very excited to be involved in the launch of the One Big Idea competition and are looking forward to personally making a difference and helping to tackle development issues in Malawi. This competition is a great way for our students to gain practical hands on experience of social enterprise and I’m sure we will do a great job at representing the North East in this competition.” The One Big Idea competition also includes an online people’s vote for the best idea, which will automatically be added to the shortlist for the judges. Duncan Bannatyne said: “The One Big Idea will not only inspire a new generation of social entrepreneurs, but will also show them how they can directly make a difference to communities in Malawi.” The judging panel also includes award-winning Entrepreneur of the Year Duncan Goose, managing director of Global Ethics, the company behind the One product range, which funds humanitarian projects in Africa, and Peter Marks, group chief executive of The Co-operative, the UK’s largest mutual retailer. The winner will work closely with the Global Ethics team to source their product, put their winning idea into production and produce the media campaign to support it.

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The only UK degree programme to deal specifically with economic crime management will be enrolling its first students at Teesside University in autumn 2010. The BA (Hons) Economic Crime Management combines a range of subjects including fraud investigation, financial crime, white collar crime, criminal behaviour and the law. The first graduates will be equipped to work in an investigations role either in law enforcement or within a public or private sector setting, or to work in regulation and or compliance, forensic accountancy, consultancy and general management. John Peters, senior lecturer in fraud and financial crime, said: “There is a growing appreciation of the importance of fraud and economic crime reflected at industry, financial services sector and government level. Fraud and economic crime is a growth industry, recently it was said that the cost of financial crime alone per year in the UK is £32bn. “Fraud alone costs every man, woman and child in the UK £440 per year and adds at least 5% to the genuine policy holders’ insurance premiums. There is a growing employment demand both in the public and private sector for individuals with a fraud investigation training background to combat this menace.”

>> Backing upturn TUC northern regional secretary Kevin Rowan is backing the TTE Technical Training Group’s Apprentices For the Upturn campaign. TTE has launched the initiative to encourage companies to take on its apprentices, many of whom who have lost support due to the retraction of the chemical, steel-making and other sectors in the North East. Mr Rowan said: “TTE is to be commended for its commitment in developing high

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quality industry standard apprentice training programmes. “It is vital that firms continue to support apprenticeships in the current economic climate so that they have a workforce equipped with the skills to make the most of the business opportunities that will arise when the recession, as it surely will, comes to an end. “That is why I am providing my support to TTE’s Apprentices for the Upturn campaign, which is crucial to the future success of industries in the North East.” Keith Hunter, TTE managing director, said: “Raising awareness of this campaign to as wide an audience as possible is important and to secure the support of Kevin Rowan, who has such vast industrial experience and knowledge, is to be welcomed. “His backing will help add further weight to the campaign with employers across the North East.” The campaign highlights that the disciplines taught as part of TTE’s Apprenticeship programmes are transferrable across a wide range of businesses. The apprentices seeking support are in the second or third year of their training and already have the skills to be able to effectively contribute to a company from day one. TTE can assume employer status – this means TTE could take on the legal and contractual responsibilities, including paying National Insurance, for a company sponsoring one of its apprentices The Learning and Skills Council funds TTE apprenticeship programmes in order to provide employers across the UK with the skills required to assist in the economic upturn.

>> Three up TTE Technical Training Group is on the verge of scoring a hat-trick with a design services company. ProtEx, which employs 22 people, is currently looking to use the services of TTE for Apprenticeship training for a third time.

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

Apprentice pair: Derek Green and James Wem

The news comes in the wake of Middlesbrough-based TTE’s recently launching an Apprentices for the Upturn campaign, which is aimed at encouraging more firms to sponsor its apprentices. TTE is already training two instrument engineers – James Wem, 22, and Derek Green, 19 - on behalf of ProtEx, which is based in Stokesley. They are both on the Advanced Apprenticeship course and are combining this with tuition in two-dimensional Auto Computer Aided Design (CAD) Engineering Design at Stockton Riverside College. They will qualify in the summer of 2012 and will become part of ProtEx’s in-house technical design team, which specialises in designing electrical safety systems for hazardous areas. Keith, Leslie, TTE Apprenticeship business director, said: “Access to quality and industry focused education and training is as vital to smaller firms, which have a significant part to play in the Tees Valley’s economic development, as it is for larger businesses. Derek Green senior, ProtEx managing director, said: “Training and development of personnel is of great importance to ProtEx and the directors support and encourage all employees to gain further experience and qualifications not only to fulfill the needs of the business, but also to fulfil personal goals. He added: “ProtEx Directors are looking into employing another Apprentice, who will be trained at TTE and are currently going through the interview process.”

>> Paper view Northumberland-based manufacturer, SCA Hygiene and Prudhoe Community High School, are giving students an insight

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NEWS

into industry as part of a new engineering qualification aimed at year 10 and 11 students. Staff at SCA’s Paper Mill in Prudhoe - home of the popular ‘Velvet’ brand of toilet tissue - will be working closely with Prudhoe High School’s head of engineering, Geoff Wallman, to deliver a unit of the new Higher Diploma in Engineering at the Mill. The Diploma, a two-year study option available for 14-year-olds, was launched by the Government in 2008. It is the equivalent to 7 GCSEs at grades A* to C and is a direct response to appeals from employers, who have called for changes to be made within the education system, to enable young people to develop a practical skill-set in preparation for joining the world of work. Staff at SCA specialising in a variety of manufacturing operations will be passing on their wealth of experience to 19 students in the first year at a special training facility within the Mill. Ian Callender, operations trainer at SCA, said: “We are committed to growing and developing our own workforce locally so we’re delighted to be working in partnership with Geoff and the engineering department at Prudhoe High. “We hope that by giving students a better understanding of engineering processes in a real business environment, we can capture some of the brightest young minds in the area and help to secure their interest in manufacturing when it comes to them choosing a career path in the future. It is my understanding that we are the first major employer in the area to be offering anything like this for school children which is something we’re extremely proud of.” Prudhoe Community High School is the lead school for Engineering within ‘Tynedale Virtual College’, a link-up which aims to provide a wide range of vocational opportunities in High Schools throughout West Northumberland. Other schools involved include Queen Elizabeth in Hexham, Ponteland Community High and Haydon Bridge High. >>

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Real business: SCA’s Ian Callender with student, Lee Reynolds, in the Mill’s workshop Geoff Wallman said: “As part of Tynedale Virtual College, we have taken on students from three other schools in the local area who have expressed an interest in engineering. “SCA’s help in delivering the Diploma has been invaluable and I would like to express my gratitude to the company for showing such a caring and proactive approach. This experience will see the students embedded within SCA, contributing to the working day and getting involved in numerous processes within the Mill. “By working in this way as opposed to a standard work experience placement, the students are learning genuine technical and practical aspects of manufacturing and production techniques in a real-time situation thanks to the coaching they are receiving from SCA on top of their theoretical learning in the classroom.” As part of the collaboration, two groups of students will alternate visiting the site each week over a twelve week period. The Diploma is half practical learning and half theoretical and has a combined total of eight units. SCA Hygiene Products UK has more than 420 employees and more than 30 apprentices currently on its books.

Hands on: Student Jake Sloan with SCA’s Ian Callender

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Top bench: Red House students Lewis Blakey, 16, Cameron Grove, 13, Matthew Wales, 14 and Ali Ijaz, 14.

>> Benchmarking Top science students from the region’s schools battled it out in classroom and practical chemistry challenges in to the regional final of ‘Top of the Bench’. The national Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) competition, organised locally by educational staff from NEPIC (North East Process Industry Cluster), involved 32 of the North East’s top science students from eight local secondary schools. The event, held at Durham University’s Stockton Campus, saw teams of four students - two from Year 9 and one each from Year 10 and 11 - vying to going through to the national final in the spring. This year’s regional winner was Red House, a senior independent school based in Norton near Stockton. The winning team was made up of Cameron Grove and Matthew Wales from Year 9, Ali Ijaz from Year 10 and Lewis Blakey from Year 11, all with the support and encouragement of the school’s head of chemistry, David Frank. Mr Frank, who has taught chemistry at Red House for more than 24 years, said: “I was already proud that they had entered the regional final with the highest point score of the heats, and now to see them as champions is a wonderful achievement. In addition to the challenges of the competition itself, working in the Durham University labs has been great experience for them, and I hope it has inspired them to continue studying chemistry beyond their GCSEs and A Levels.” Winning student, 16-year-old Lewis Blakey, is no stranger to competition success. In addition to his love of science, Lewis is also a top trampolining athlete, and has represented his school in the National Schools Competition in

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the Under 15 Elite Boys category. He said: “I entered the Top of the Bench heats on crutches after breaking my leg on the trampoline, which made the practical work a bit tricky! But I am thrilled to be heading off to the national finals next year, before my GCSE exams, and I definitely now think I should consider a future career in science.” In addition to managing events in conjunction with the RSC and other professional bodies, NEPIC also runs numerous other education events and activities throughout the educational calendar, aimed at 14 to 19 year olds.

>> Partners against fraud

Taking steps: Alistair Irons, Steve Mackle, Mark Donnelly, business development manager University of Sunderland Accountants Tait Walker have announced the launch of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Sunderland. The firm will benefit from the recruitment of a recent graduate to work alongside partner Steve Mackle for the next two years to gain an insight into how fraud and money laundering affect the social housing sector. It is anticipated that, at the end of the project, Tait Walker will develop commercial software which will deliver a cost effective method of identifying the risk, so that appropriate systems and controls can be put in place. Mr Mackle said: “Following a recent presentation I gave at the university on

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how criminals exploit businesses to clean up dirty money, I found an alarming lack of knowledge within the sector on how to deal with problem. The idea of the knowledge transfer partnership was born and I am delighted to say that Alistair Irons, head of department at the Faculty of Applied Sciences, has committed to the project.” Mr Irons said: “For the university, knowledge transfer partnerships are valuable in terms of enabling our academic colleagues to transfer knowledge and expertise into the commercial world. In addition to keeping our teaching and research - which we feed into academic programmes – relevant, it also helps us to develop long lasting relationships with high calibre firms such as Tait Walker. “In addition to benefiting from working closely with accountants’ in-house forensic experts, the successful graduate will also be supported throughout by a team of academics from the university.” Mr Mackle added: “Money laundering, through the sale of property, has a detrimental effect on those communities managed by housing associations and local authorities. Anything Tait Walker and the university can develop which will assist in reducing this crime will, I believe, have a positive impact.”

Next step: Sue O’Hara, of LSC North East, Jonny Wright, of nextstep and Trisha Goddard

>> Next step with Trisha Talk show host Trisha Goddard visited Newcastle to help North Easterners change their lives by learning the necessary skills. The daytime television star used her talents as a chat show host to encourage visitors to Newcastle Central Library to talk about their

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

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>> Challenging leaders Coast & Country Housing is offering one local youngster their first step on the career ladder by launching a year-long Future Leaders scheme involving teenagers aged 14 to 15. Under the innovative project, students from four schools in the Redcar & Cleveland area will be set a series of challenges. One student will eventually be named a Future Leader and will be awarded an apprenticeship with Coast & Country starting in 2011. The first stage of the selection process was held at Laurence Jackson School in Guisborough, with students from there, Redcar Community College, Nunthorpe, and Sacred Heart taking part in a variety of testing activities. They will now all become involved in a series of community projects, which they will devise and for which they will be given a budget. These initiatives will be assessed and afterward the group will be whittled down to 60 young people, who will have the opportunity to attend a week’s outward course in the Lake District . At the launch event, the teenagers were set tasks including creating a free standing towering sculpture using balloons, coming up with creative designs for a bathroom, brainstorming ideas for improving their community, demonstrating their project planning abilities and taking part in a quiz. The Future Leaders Scheme has received support from partner agencies including Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council. Emma Grimes, communities manager at Coast & Country, said: “Coast & Country is hoping to inspire young people and develop their aspirations through this innovative

personal interests and skills to careers advisors who could then help them find suitable job or learning opportunities. She was in the region to promote nextstep, a careers advice service funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). “Through my show and personal experience I

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Blown up: Luke Pitt, of Redcar Community College, working on his free standing towering balloon sculpture Future Leader scheme.” “While one will win an Apprenticeship with Coast & Country, the idea is for all of those taking part to gain from the experience by growing in confidence, building their selfesteem and becoming equipped with strong team working, presenting, problem solving and creative skills. Future Leaders will also teach them about job opportunities and how the skills they learn at school are important to help lay the foundations towards a satisfying career.” Kelly Rich, of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said: “The Future Leaders scheme is an excellent opportunity for the schools within our borough. It is giving them an opportunity to use the enterprise skills they use every day at school in another way with, of course, the fantastic opportunity of an apprenticeship at the and of it for one lucky student.” Alison Blacklott, of Nunthorpe School , said: “This scheme will benefit the students because it will allow them to use their enterprising skills and to contribute to the community and to produce something that is worthwhile.”

have learned that life is about overcoming challenges, looking for opportunities and not being afraid to ask for help and support,” said Trisha. Although famed for her role as a talk show host, using discussion and advice to help people make positive life changes, Trisha has undergone a number of career >>

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changes herself. The 51-year-old worked as an air stewardess and in PR, as well as being a children’s TV presenter, news and current affairs reporter and advisor on mental health issues to the Australian government. “If I can make the changes and learn the necessary skills to take on the new jobs that I set my sights on, anyone can,” she said. The nextstep service is a free service and is available to anyone aged 20 or above. It is also available to 18 or 19-year-olds who have been referred to the service by Jobcentre Plus. “From time to time we could all do with advice and guidance to help with improving skills, finding or changing our job and improving skills said Chris Roberts, regional director, LSC North East. “Lots of people find they are not in the job they want because they don’t feel confident about their reading, writing or maths. Nextstep can help point you in the right direction to improve your skills - and tell you what financial support is available while you learn.”

At Gibside School: Back row l-r, Callum Mackay, Nathan Jordison, Elliott Bolam and Callum Millard, front row l-r, Rachel Atkinson, Ben Tague, Keiron Lumley

>> New faces City of Sunderland College has made two new appointments. Newly promoted Graeme Price is now team leader for Leadership & Management and responsible for coordinating a regional portfolio of programmes from Middlesbrough to Morpeth. Before coming to the college, Graeme,who has lectured at the College for two years, was a marketing & recruitment manager at the University of Sunderland. Newly promoted Jeanette Davies is now international coordinator for leadership & management and will look after the growing portfolio in Europe, East and Southern Asia. Jeanette who has lectured at the college for three years successfully established the Retail Management Foundation Degree, Jeanette has also coordinated cross college student enterprise for the last 2 years. Before coming to the college Jeanette was a manager for M&S and an award winning entrepreneur.

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>> Graduate matchmaking Rachel Atkinson has settled into her new role as community fundraiser for The Children’s Foundation and been busy encouraging schools and community groups to raise funds. Rachel was recruited by The Children’s Foundation through Entrust’s Graduates for Business (GfB) service. GfB offers a match making recruitment service alongside support and funding to successfully place a graduate with a business. Caroline O’Docherty, operations director, The Children’s Foundation, said: “I was looking for a new recruit with an interest in the third sector and who had done some volunteering. It was important that the candidates wanted to work for a charity, rather than just get a job. The Children’s Foundation wanted a rounded individual who demonstrated a real desire to learn, be creative and get involved. “The GfB process was very straightforward and Entrust was extremely helpful. We had an initial meeting where the process was

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explained, the job description and requirements were discussed and then I left the next steps to them. “Entrust’s GfB service is a cost effective method for us as a charity; there are no agency or advert costs. Rachel Atkinson said: “I’m enjoying working with a small team and gaining experience. I’m also enjoying the variety of the role and having the chance to meet and work directly with the schools, such as Gibside School, and groups who support The Children’s Foundation. I can’t wait to get more schools involved and raise lots of money!” Recently, Rachel attended a table top sale at Gibside School, Whickham to raise awareness of, and money for, the charity’s newest appeal, The Great North Baton Challenge. This appeal is raising money to provide world-class facilities for the new Great North Children’s Hospital. GfB helps businesses to tap into over 1000 registered graduates. The Graduates for Business Service at Entrust is funded by Regional Development Agency One North East and the European Development Fund (ERDF).

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Spelt out: Students from Ashington High School helped to launch the One Day campaign.

>> Enterprising target beaten A regional campaign aimed at encouraging more businesses to support enterprise education has beaten its initial targets – benefitting more than 1,000 additional young people in the North East. At the beginning of last year, enterprise education charity Young Enterprise North East set a target to sign up one new businessperson every working day throughout its 18-month ‘One Day’ campaign. The One Day call-to-action campaign, supported by regional development agency One North East, was targeted at business owners and encouraged them to sign a pledge to give up either one day of their time, staff, expertise or profits to help support the region’s future economy and create the next generation of entrepreneurs. Organisers have announced that the campaign has beaten initial targets by signing up 72 new businesses and recruiting 180 new volunteers to help deliver enterprise education lessons in classrooms throughout the North East. Since the start of the campaign, almost £2,000 in cash donations was made to the charity, through business fundraising events, which will ensure that an extra 1,333 young people in the region will benefit from YENE enterprise education programme. The campaign also encouraged businesses to allow students to undertake work experience placements and job shadowing and since its launch an additional 350 students visited a workplace. Young Enterprise North East chief executive Catherine Marchant said: “When we first set the initial target to sign up one new business every

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

day throughout the campaign we thought we were being ambitious. The number of businesses and individuals that have given their support and that we have actually beaten this target has staggered me. “New businesses that have come on board include Royal Mail, the Department for Work and Pensions as well as smaller enterprises such as Aycliffe Fabrications and Carrot Media - all of which have made such a huge difference in the way we can now deliver a more robust, credible inspirational service. “Our aim was to also keep the flame of enterprise alive in young people and with this wider support from regional business community, I believe we have been able to plant the seed of enterprise in more young people’s minds and have certainly helped to develop more enterprising attitudes and work based skills.’’ One North East head of business, enterprise and skills Tim Pain said: “The One Day campaign was an excellent way of showing businesses just how simple and easy it is for them to inspire the entrepreneurs of the future. “Equally, the young people who have taken part have been able to develop their enterprise skills by meeting real-life entrepreneurs, spending time in a business environment and seeing how ideas grow into a new product or service.” Now, Young Enterprise North East is planning the next phase of its promotional drive, which will focus on looking beyond the recession and preparing for an upturn. It will seek to gain longer-term and more sustainable commitment from the business and education community.

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INTERVIEW

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IT’S A TIME OF CHANGE FOR TYNE METROPOLITAN COLLEGE WITH A NEW PRINCIPAL AND NEW PLANS TO MEET NEW CHALLENGES Tyne Metropolitan College has set its sights on delivering a positive future for thousands of students and employers in North Tyneside and beyond, following the arrival of a new principal, in October 2009 Jon Vincent, 39, became one of the youngest ever college principals in further education when he joined the College last October, following four years as deputy principal of Burton College in Burton-upon-Trent. He is confident that now not only does he have a fresh outlook on education provision and a track record of implementing employer engagement initiatives, but he also has a staff who are committed to an agenda of change. He says: “TyneMet has a history in the region as a high quality further education provider. We work with businesses and individuals not just in the North East, but across the whole of the UK, who come to the college to seek our experience in the delivery of bespoke education and training. “In the course of my career, I have delivered many successful initiatives borne out of a commitment to working with the local community and wider businesses. Whilst at Burton College, I helped introduce a range of new initiatives for employers through tailored training programmes, Train to Gain and Apprenticeships. Their success led to the college receiving an ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted for the range and responsiveness of its education and training provision.’’ Vincent explains how he, along with the

New man: Jon Vincent takes the reins College’s governors and senior management, has been working to look at how the college can effectively meet the needs of young people, the recent and long-term unemployed, employers and the wider community. “TyneMet has enjoyed particular success in developing training programmes for employers, often in specialist sectors such as waste management, catering, hospitality and laundry services,’’ he says. “Now, we want to draw on the expertise of the college to support individuals and businesses during

We want to support individuals and businesses during these trying economic times and build stronger foundations on which the local economy can thrive

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these trying economic times and build stronger foundations on which the local economy can thrive. He describes how one of the aims is to provide a more holistic approach to education and training for local businesses, offering options for the seamless provision of basic skills such as numeracy literacy and language through to higher-level professional development programmes. He adds: “We are able to offer employers training options that are delivered at a pace and location which suits them, a type of flexibility which has seen employers return year on year to access our many and varied programmes.” TyneMet has already undergone a series of changes since Vincent’s arrival. It has entered into a partnership with four local feeder schools in North Tyneside Norham Community Technology College, Marden High School, John Spence Community High School and Southland Special School - to create the new Queen Alexandra Sixth Form College, based at the former TyneMet Sixth Form campus in North Shields. Vincent says: “The Queen Alexandra partnership is unique in its shared mission to improve routes into further and higher education and equip young people with the skills and qualities desired by employers.” He adds: “I’ve always had a great passion for the further education sector having studied at an FE college myself after leaving school. I look forward to drawing on my experience to ensure TyneMet continues to play a central role in providing exciting opportunities for the borough and beyond.”

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


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The College’s most tangible link with the business community is its Employer Services department. The Employer Services department has been developed specifically to bring the College to the business community and can design and deliver flexible training. The department provides a central point of contact for all employer training enquiries. Through Employer Services the College can provide a wealth of experience in developing and delivering employer led qualifications for a range of industry sectors. These can be NVQs, Distance Learning qualifications and bespoke employer led programmes.

Middlesbrough College are committed to providing high quality, flexible and cost effective training programmes to the business community, both private and public sector, that deliver immediate performance improvements in the workplace. For more information contact. Employer Services Middlesbrough College Dock Street Middlesbrough TS2 1AD Tel. 01642 333322 Email employerservices@mbro.ac.uk Photo by Steve Mayes

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OVERVIEW

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OVERVIEW

A LESSON FOR US ALL We are trying to create a knowledge economy in the UK, but how do we create that knowledge and the skills to acquire it? asks Peter Jackson

Our Victorian ancestors were a hard-headed lot and when they passed the 1870 Education Act introducing free, compulsory primary school education it was not out of sentimentality. No, they feared that increasingly competitive, upstart rivals were threatening Britain’s position as a paramount trading and manufacturing nation and so we, like they, should start to educate our workforce.

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

This will strike a chord with business people today who point to the emerging economies of India and the Far East, whose success they attribute, in no small part, to a greater rigour in their schooling systems. It remains a source of bafflement to many that the UK’s productivity per worker remains below that of most other G7 countries. Fair enough, we can accept that we lag the US and Germany, but to be behind France and Italy! How can we produce less than nations which enjoy siestas, two-hour lunches and have 40 days paid holiday a year? Of course, the reasons are complicated; there are lies, damned lies and statistics and, according to the Office for National Statistics, in terms of GDP per hour worked, UK productivity increased by 49% between 1991 and 2007, giving us the fastest rate of growth in the G7. But, the suspicion remains, that people such as the French and Italians work smarter, not harder, that they do so on every level, and that they do so because they are better educated than we are. And yet, there is so much activity; so much

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energy and so many resources being devoted to training. Our universities have some highly regarded business schools which have to compete for students by being ever more responsive to the needs of business, with MBAs tailored to meet the needs of particular companies. Universities are engaged in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, consultancies and graduate placements. Below them, and in partnership with them, colleges of further education have taken over the training of entire companies in everything from NVQs through apprenticeships to foundation degrees. In the worlds of further and higher education, there has probably never been a greater sense of partnership and interdependence. This has not come about as a result of an awakening of mutual affection, but through mutual self-interest. Colleges and universities have to follow the money and, even in these hard times, business has the money and businesses, on their part, recognise that colleges and universities represent a great resource to which they can profitably >>

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10


OVERVIEW

WINTER 10

outsource many of their training needs. Given this responsiveness of further and higher education, does the problem lie with secondary and even primary schools? Certainly business criticisms of the education system seem to centre on what it turns out at the age of 16 and any condemnation of the workreadiness of graduates appears to be driven by a perception that they lack certain key skills which should have been taught by that age. Employers frequently complain that they have to undertake remedial work to bring new employers up to the required standards in basics such as the three Rs. Alan Hall, EEF regional director for the North East, describes this as `a huge problem’. He says: “There are problems with 16-yearolds where employers have to put in special arrangements to try to teach them basic maths or basic literacy. We have examples of companies having such programmes to enable people to operate successfully in a modern work environment and not be struggling with rudimentary forms or a basic filing system.’’ Problems with numeracy and literacy are easily identified and can usually be addressed but, less easily definable and certainly less easily corrected are problems of attitude - whether that is attitude to authority, attitude to customers or just attitude to getting out of bed in the morning. Geoff Ford, chairman of Ford Components and chairman of South Tyneside Enterprise Partnership, underlines how difficult it is to rectify problems of attitude and motivation. He says: “We do a deal with our first time employees: if he, or she, shows the right attitude, we provide in-house training to give work skills and knowledge, but, if they don’t have the right attitude, it’s a non-starter.’’ He believes that part of the problem is that too many teachers have not experienced work outside academia and in too many areas, parents have not experienced work, full stop - for either group to be able to inculcate the right attitude and motivation in young people. There is also a suspicion that, aside from problems of attitude or teaching basic numeracy and literacy, too many secondary schools are abandoning academic rigour. A recent report by the think-tank Civitas, for example, concludes that some of the new

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academy schools boost exam results by substituting vocational courses such as general science, computer studies or sport for subjects such as single sciences, modern languages, history and geography. Any such academies would, no doubt, argue that there is nothing wrong with improving exam performance by providing educational opportunities for non-academically minded students. They could also point out that computer studies can be extremely valuable to employers. As CBI regional director Sarah Green points out, we should remember that the business leaders who criticise school leavers are of a different generation. She says: “They are not as IT literate as these young people and perhaps don’t value the exceptional IT skills they are

bringing to the workplace.’’ She also points out there is an onus on business to engage with schools, to make clear what is required and to do more to help achieve it. “Businesses need to be engaged with the curriculum and help give material related to the real world. Business must see young people as being part of the supply chain.’’ Many employers concede that all too often work experience is a matter of lip service for businesses which subject bored teenagers to nothing more stimulating or educational than a week of photocopying. As Alan Hall says: “Business has done the finger pointing but schools can equally well point the finger back at the business community.’’ This reflects an important point: education is too important to be left to schools; it is the responsibility of the whole community. In the North East there is a problem with the popular attitude to education, which is rooted in the whole community and in its heritage. Generations were brought up working in the heavy industries of mining, ship-building, steel-making and engineering: man’s work, which, while requiring great skills, did not use skills acquired at school. The result has been a cultural indifference – or even hostility – to schooling. This, coupled with the decline of those traditional industries and the consequent long term structural unemployment in certain areas, has created a toxic lack of aspiration. As Sarah Green says: “The main issue for the North East is raising aspiration; getting jobs for young people if they work hard and that is a joint responsibility for education and business.’’ n

Too many teachers have not experienced work outside academia and in too many areas, parents have not experienced work, full stop

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INTERVIEW

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

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EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


WINTER 10

INTERVIEW

FROM BOARDROOM TO CLASSROOM Many large businesses care about education, but few care enough to sponsor a large school. Peter Walls, group chief executive of Gentoo has done just that, as Peter Jackson reports Academy 360 was Sunderland’s first academy, replacing Pennywell School and Quarry View Primary School as an all-through school for 4 to 16 year-olds. The academy, which opened its doors in September 2009 caters for more than 1,000 students in a new purpose-built £25m complex, which includes state-of-the-art technology, including an IT zone, a theatre-inthe-round, recording studio and an all-weather sports pitch. Gentoo, formerly Sunderland Housing Association, has sponsored the new academy to the tune of £1m. Why? Why would a business do that? “We were already demolishing about 1,000 houses here and building a new residential community and changing the mix of properties, which were all formerly rented and replacing them with a much more mixed community,’’ says Peter Walls. “In the process of doing that, it became evident to us that communities are valued more where the education provision is also valued more.’’ He points out that high value homes tend to go hand-in-hand with good schools and Gentoo could see little prospect of building a more balanced community if the education provision was poor and, significantly,

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

Pennywell School had had four headteachers in five years. “For us, the greatest engine to regenerating an area would come by improving its educational prospects and to really change a neighbourhood that has had so many indices of deprivation for so long the best way to start is by working with the kids and working through education.’’ There was also a strong belief that a new school would boost the area’s morale and sense of self-worth. “It’s hard for communities who always believe they are in some kind of adversity to ever believe it happens in their neighbourhood – new schools just don’t come to Pennywell,’’ says Wells. Gentoo’s regeneration work in Pennywell, its belief in the importance of good schooling to that regeneration, and the Government’s policy of seeking sponsors for new academies came together at the same time. The company was chosen to sponsor the academy, with Sunderland City Council as a co-sponsor, and with financial support from local businessman Bob Murray. The academy is governed by a trust board over which Walls presides as chairman.

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Peter Walls and his team at Gentoo were determined that the Academy would be different and , where other academies had chosen specialisms such as Sport or IT, they chose Innovation. “When we talked about innovation we wanted the school to be innovative itself in the teaching and being prepared to challenge conventions and be different in the way it created a learning offer,’’ says Walls. “But we also wanted to try to connect the personal learning programmes to each child, and say: `What are you really interested in?’ We believe attendance and attention and enthusiasm and all of that are much easier obtained if the children enjoy what they are doing.’’ So they sought a way of delivering the curriculum in a way that would teach the essential skills, but combined with greater personal choice, also involving vocational options. In doing that, Gentoo plans to use its extensive business connections so that business and the academy work closely together. “We want to provide an opportunity to bring the real world here and bring the kids out into the real world and to go and experience some stuff so it wasn’t as driven by classroom learning the conventional curriculum structure,’’ says Walls. He argues that young people who go on to leave the Academy might have 12 different jobs in a lifetime, not necessarily in the same industry or sector, and that conventional classroom learning is not the best way to equip them to cope with that. In all of this, he believes passionately that >>

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10


INTERVIEW

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businesses, the students, the Academy, the community and the parents have to be working together. Pennywell is a tight-knit community; there is no Pennywell diaspora and parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts typically tend to stay and live in the area. “Because they didn’t have a great experience of learning here, it would not be surprising if they weren’t terribly influential in their kids future here,’’ he says. “I know, because I’ve still got kids at school, how much we have to do to help them to embed some of the basic skills like Maths and English. We have to torture our kids just to do homework as all parents have to. So it’s a big challenge for us to bring the community back to the school on a better basis, so the school’s facilities are community facilities,’’. By its sponsorship Gentoo has, he insists, demonstrated a long term strategic commitment to education in Pennywell, and its business skills in devising and sticking with long term strategies will make a radical difference to the Academy. “In education it’s a world of constant initiatives, one after the other, hoping that each one will crack the problem, whereas businesses work on limited initiatives which are firmly established within the business and which are held over time with a determination to make them work. “We are not trying to become educationalists, there are plenty of talented people in education, what I think we can bring to the table is a different view and the application of some business practices to the benefit of the young people in our school.’’ He cites targets, and analysis of performance against targets, where, as a business, it will drill down beneath the figures to discover where the Academy is performing well and, more important, specific areas where it is performing less well and can improve. Also, he says, as a business must listen to its customers, so the Academy should listen to its students and act on their opinions and concerns: a philosophy behind the decision to allow the students a say in naming the Academy and designing its uniforms. There is, of course, the practical, concrete benefits of Gentoo’s sponsorship, which gives the Academy the backing of its resources in

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

In the first year, it was a question of saying the game’s changed

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areas such as HR, procurement, legal and so on. Also, the new model of governance, with its board of trustees, can make decisions more quickly and more easily than the old boards of governors, introducing innovations such as more project-based work or inter-age learning. The first year of the Academy has been - as Walls admits – “about stabilising the learning environment’’. Inevitably with a change of culture, there was resistance, particularly from Year 11s, who had only one year left in the new Academy. So there were a number of well-publicised exclusions and an initially high staff turnover. “It was a transitional year of stopping certain things,’’ says Walls. “We knew it wouldn’t have been in this position if there weren’t certain things to sort out, but the extent to which they governed the potential of the school meant there were even greater issues than we had first suspected – disruptive behaviour, people walking out of classes, smoking in classes, never mind outside: these things had become normal. In the first year, it was a question of saying the game’s changed.’’ And he now feels there are signs that Gentoo’s influence is beginning to be felt, with a marked reduction in exclusions and, most important, a recent satisfactory rating by Ofsted inspectors who commended the Academy’s chief executive Paul Prest and Gentoo for `their clear vision for the Academy and for having `introduced a curriculum which will, in the longer term, engage pupils and help them to achieve well’. Walls accepts there is a long way to go, but he is certain the journey is worth making. He says: “The first thing we have to create is a feeling of self-worth and self-esteem among the children and the teachers. There is sometimes a perception that this mountain is just too big to climb and we have to accept that this is where we are going to be for the rest of our lives and we are never going to be Royal Grammar. “I don’t know if Academy 360 is going to be Royal Grammar, but it definitely won’t be if you think you are always going to be where you are. Those horizons and that vision can be influenced and helped by people looking in from outside, they can make it easier to change.’’ n

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


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INTERVIEW

WINTER 10

BEING TRUE TO YOURSELF Creating a skilled workforce is important at all levels, as much to the boardroom as the shop floor, as Jane Turner explains to Peter Jackson

There’s still snow on the ground when I go to see Jane Turner and her office Christmas cards are still on display, despite the festive season being over. Perhaps, as associate dean – executive development portfolio in Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University, she has

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

been too busy to take them down, or perhaps she can’t bring herself to remove one from a grateful student on her leadership development programme. She reads me the message inside: “A few weeks have passed since our final coaching session and I want to say a big thank you for the support and deep challenge you have provided over the past few months, in particular the insights, that often came as surprises, have provided a firm bedrock on which to build. It’s a fascinating journey and I am grateful to you for your guiding help along the way.’’ It’s quite a testimonial and is, no doubt, particularly gratifying because, until two and a half years ago, Newcastle Business School had no executive development programme and Turner was appointed to fill that gap. Her own background is corporate rather than academic; she was a leadership specialist with Orange Telecommunications and was then

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head of HR for Benfield Motor Group. This makes her emphasise the practical rather than the academic. She says: “That’s what employers want, they don’t want theory, that’s not relevant to the day-to-day running of their business. My parents ran their own small business for 19 years and I saw universities trying to come in and offer support that was completely out of kilter, so I’m really quite passionate about making sure that we deliver what is actually required by businesses.’’ She believes that too many business schools in the past have been too prone to “just churn out leader theory’’ without it making any real changes to the leader and therefore without it having any real impact on the organisation which they lead. It is this failure of previous approaches to leadership training and its attendant failure to achieve any real cultural shift in businesses that Turner believes is, to a large extent, what

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lies behind our current woes. She says: “I feel very angry that there have been a lot of people creaming off a lot of money and not serving with positive intentions and I think we are servicing a lot of angst and anxiety that leaders have in organisations and leaders are starting to come through and say we can’t carry on like that and it’s not about fat cat salaries, it’s about giving something back and people are starting to see the bigger picture and the wider implications.’’ So, on some of the business school’s courses, students will look at, analyse and discuss newspaper cartoons portraying business leaders as archetypal fat cats; and the way in which they are being portrayed in the media generally. Perhaps too, we should be looking at some of our business leaders closer to home. As Turner says: “Regionally we have a really strong clique of male, ageing leaders. I’m very passionate about letting new blood come through

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

regionally that is innovative, creative and that is really going to take the region forward and they are the type of people we want to engage with.’’ Her emphasis on a practical approach to leadership is not, she insists, at the expense of a sound academic foundation to what is taught. “There is academic underpinning to what we do, but it’s not just theory for the sake of

INTERVIEW

theory, so a lot of our assignments are very practically based.’’ She describes how, for example, one client, Northumbrian Water, has put senior leaders on a masters programme and one of their assignments is a work-based project relevant to the business. She explains: “They are approaching that with great discipline they would not normally use and they are looking at other industries >>

I feel very angry that there have been a lot of people creaming off a lot of money and not serving with positive intentions

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and the output of that has to be relevant to their role and if it’s not relevant to their role then our assessment processes are flawed. Our philosophy is to be a practice based school and we are developing the individual as a practitioner.’’ This leadership training is delivered by means of several vehicles: an MBA in executive leadership, bespoke courses such as a post graduate certificate in public sector commissioning for leaders in the NHS, a post graduate certificate in executive coaching, short course interventions, diagnostics and consultancy. A short term consultancy intervention might typically involve two two-day sessions with an organisation’s leadership team off-site, often at the business school or even, in one recent case, in Amsterdam. At the other end of the spectrum, the training could be part of a two-and-a-half-year masters programme in leadership. But all Newcastle Business School’s leadership training is grounded in something that is a recurrent theme of our conversation: authenticity. Turner says: “Authentic basically comes from a Greek word that means `to thine own self be true’, and I know, having worked with leaders over the past 10 years, that there are so many leaders out there, who, to quote Shakespeare’s Macbeth, are `strutting and fretting’, but it doesn’t have to be like that, lots of people are wearing lots of masks and playing out lots of roles, but let’s just strip that back to who we are.’’ She adds: “It’s not about charisma or extroversion or introversion; people want you to be genuine and authentic in your operations as a leader and, if you don’t have the answers, then be honest about that and don’t start covering your back and lie. It’s just about good human behaviour.’’ Which sounds all well and good, but, I put it to her: if someone is a complete swine, how do you correct that? “I think you can get them to reflect on why they are the way they are. If someone is a swine, it’s often because they have issues or hang-ups; it’s down to fear, trying to cover something up and masking some sort of inadequacies that they feel they have.’’

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

This question of authenticity is not just a matter for the individual, but for the individual and the organisation and Turner insists a leader cannot uphold the values of an organisation unless they mirror their own personal values. “I have come across some organisations with fantastic glossy brochures containing their mission statement and values but then they get stuck in a drawer where they are of no use to anybody. We are very challenging about values and how they are lived and breathed in an organisation. Values are so important; at a subconscious level, they guide every choice and decision you make.’’ But surely, getting a leader to appraise his values and his authenticity can be an unnerving experience? “We challenge and we push and we make no bones about that. We push people out of their comfort zones and they wobble but we are not doing our job unless we create leader shift. I’ve had lots of people wobble but, as yet, I haven’t had anybody who has walked away from the process.’’In fact, they sometimes send her very complimentary Christmas cards. n

NEWCASTLE BUSINESS SCHOOL AT NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY FACT FILE Newcastle Business School was established in 1989 Number of students: 6000 More than 92 nationalities represented Number of students studying NBS programmes abroad: 2200 15% postgraduate/ postexperience

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Number of staff: 200

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


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INTERVIEW

WINTER 10

LEARNING THE ART WAY Business and the arts traditionally regard each other with suspicion, but Newcastle University Business School sees things differently, as Peter Jackson reports

It’s a long way from State Street to Grey Street but Lindsay Schlesser put her Chicago photography business on hold to come to study in Newcastle. Schlesser, 24, a graduate of Columbia University, who built up her business specialising in performance photography, had always been interested in Art’s relationship with business. “I’ve always been interested in the business aspect of Art, but at Columbia there was never

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

a business course geared towards artists and I work in a different way to business students,’’ she says. So, when the recession began to affect her business, she resolved to pursue her interest and search out a masters degree that met her needs. Thanks to the power of the internet, she found the Newcastle University Business School’s new Masters in Arts Business Creativity Degree, flew over to the UK, spoke to the school, signed up and started the degree last September. Now she’s immersing herself in her studies – and North East life. “I really enjoy it, I like the people in my programme: it’s a huge mixture of cultures and backgrounds and professions, with people who are artists and quite a few people who want to incorporate arts and creativity into business. The discussions we have in class are really thought-provoking. As the course goes on, I find the reading is easier to understand and really see how I could apply it to my business.’’ The Masters in Arts Business Creativity was launched this year and Lindsay is one of 11 students who have signed up for it. It can be done as a one-year full-time course or as a part time course over two years. Dr Fiona Whitehurst, director of engagement for Newcastle University Business School, says:

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“There has been an interest in the creative industries in the Business School for the last three to four years when it became apparent that there were a very large number of graduates coming out of the region’s universities who were wishing to start up their own enterprises but there seemed to be a draw down to the South.’’ Particularly with the explosion in digital media, a big proportion of these graduates were interested in starting businesses, which, if not artistic, in the traditional sense, were certainly creative. “We felt we wanted to do something to support those students by giving them an entrepreneurship and business education to support their creative education and it was from there the Masters in Arts Business Creativity was designed in consultation with a large number of partners in the creative sector,’’ adds Dr Whitehurst. The School’s Visiting Professor: Innovation and Creativity Mo O’ Toole explains that creative SMEs have similar problems to other SMEs. “We tend to find that because a creative business is such a high risk business those problems are often heightened. At the Business School we get in depth knowledge of all sorts of situations that SMEs encounter and we also get a series of contacts within that >>

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


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INTERVIEW

Snap happy: Lindsay Schlesser and Dr Fiona Whitehurst outside the business school

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INTERVIEW

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sector, which, in the North East, is a high growth sector.’’ She also points out that businesses and organisations which are traditionally regarded as artistic or cultural, such as theatres or concert halls, are looking at new ways of doing business to raise money through digital media and this is likely to accelerate with impending public expenditure cuts. So, for example, ballet companies or opera houses will use YouTube to generate audiences or will team up with big commercial brands to develop joint advertising campaigns. But how does the course work practically; what do the students learn? Dr Whitehurst says: “There’s sometimes seen to be a conflict between creativity and business and that you are betraying your art if you seek to commercialise it. This programme is designed to get students to reflect on their creative practice and how they can turn that into a business or vocation that not only sustains their immediate needs but enables them to turn that into a growth business, while not betraying their creativity. “So there’s a lot in terms of personal development and understanding creativity and how to turn that into a business and more practical skills around finance and marketing. We also very much design the programme so they can get a chance to look at some of the other creative teaching that goes on within the university to get them to experience new elements of creativity, so they might be taking modules in PR or writing for the Web.’’ As Prof O’Toole says, the aim is to get away from the traditional idea of a creative business as being a lifestyle business and instead move to the idea that it should be a business like any other. “Your creativity doesn’t have to suffer if you develop business acumen, rather your creativity will be enhanced by having business acumen.’’ The School believes the course has struck a chord with the vibrant creative sector in the North East, as well as attracting overseas students such as Lindsay Schlesser. Other countries represented include: Japan, China, Latvia and Russia. Newcastle University Business School’s creative business involvement was further deepened by

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

its involvement, with four other UK business schools, with the Creative Business Catalyst pilot scheme, initiated by Nesta, the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts. Creative businesses for Nesta’s purpose are divided into 13 categories, ranging from advertising through to digital media and arts and antiques. The aim was to look at new models of business development by twinning MBA students with creative businesses in order to develop growth strategies. This fitted well with the consultancy projects which the Business School’s students normally undertake as part of their MBA qualification. “There were some very good partnerships that

were developed in the pilot,’’ says Prof O’Toole. “One of our student groups worked with Live Theatre, on the Quayside in Newcastle. Three students on that project developed a business plan in conjunction with Live Theatre, which then became a central part of a bid for a pot of Arts Council funding called Sustain and, as a result of this work, Live Theatre managed to attract nearly £1m of funding from Sustain, the biggest of any awards that Sustain made this year.’’ During the pilot 35 of the School’s MBA students worked on projects for 11 creative businesses. “The feedback from the students was that it was a very good way of putting all of their knowledge they had learnt on the theoretical side into a practical situation,’’ said Prof O’Toole. The Business School sees the creative sector as being a growth sector in the North East and it is keen to engage with it. Given the large number of overseas students who attend the School this also provides the region with an opportunity to showcase that thriving sector. “Newcastle University does attract a lot of international students, not all of whom are going to stay in the region, but it will form a network of people internationally who have been involved with both Newcastle University Business School and the creative sector in the region and we can see some interesting things coming from that,’’ says Dr Whitehurst. And with Lindsay Schlesser this process already seems to be underway. She says: “I’m working here as well, getting into the culture and the landscape and things are completely different to me. I’m starting to work with local artists and document their work.’’ n

There’s sometimes seen to be a conflict between creativity and business and that you are betraying your art if you seek to commercialise it

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EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


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INTERVIEW

WINTER 10

DRIVING a two-way street Schools and colleges are moving to satisfy diverse vocational demands but what about traditional manufacturing? Peter Jackson looks at one college that has kept the faith

Teaching engineering is an expensive business, requiring great expense and a lot of sophisticated kit which needs constant costly updating. Little surprise then that, a little over 10 years ago, during the last recession, when times were tough many further education colleges closed their engineering departments, opting rather for the cheaper alternatives of IT or hairdressing.

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

To be fair, these were not purely cost-driven decisions; there was a widespread feeling that manufacturing had had its day, even in the North East and that young people should be trained for the service industries of the future. Gateshead College, however, saw things differently. Mick Brophy, the college’s assistant principal for employer engagement, says: “About 10 years ago, we plotted out our strategy on the

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basis of Nissan’s strategy - that it was pulling in all its supply chain from around the country to Washington. If they were doing that, it was obvious they were not going away, so why should we not be the college to work with them on their strategy?’’ This was an approach to which Nissan was to prove highly receptive. The car giant was looking at its own long-term training requirements and was thinking in terms of a college partnership. Steve Pallas, manager training and development global training centre, says: “What we realised was that, however much government talks about funding streams, colleges are always big lobbyers, so a lot of funding goes through colleges regardless of any strategy of making the systems more demand-led. We decided, if you wanted to get funding, it was important to have a college as a strategic partner.’’ Nissan also took the view that it did not want to deal with a number of different colleges, but with one lead partner. Gateshead, with its attachment to engineering and manufacturing, was always going to be a strong contender. “We held a beauty parade and Gateshead was the one that felt closest to our requirements,’’ says Pallas. “So we chose them and have worked with them over a number of years to develop a strategic relationship.’’ Like so many involved in business training, Pallas emphasises the partnership between company and college. “It’s important it’s a strategic relationship. We sit down with them to draw up a three-to-fiveyear medium term plan. Right at the beginning we saw this as a two-way street, so we helped them to design and deliver the curriculum.’’ It has proved to be a significant partnership. The college has invested more than £60m to create industry standard facilities. The Skills Academy for Automotive based at Team valley, Gateshead, has been adapted to include a replica production line providing trainees with learning facilities away from the demands of a ‘live' production environment. Conditions at the College are kept as close to the working environment as possible, apprentices wear Nissan's uniforms, Nissan provide team leaders to provide training >>

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


WINTER 10

INTERVIEW

Geared up: Gatesheads College’s Mick Brophy

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support and they all work to Nissan's standards. The Japanese-owned car manufacturer has re-sited its technical training centre, which includes a range of machinery and equipment, at the Automotive Centre of Excellence, ACE, and has also donated six cars, including a brand new Qashqai, for Gateshead College students to work with. “It has been a true partnership with industry,’’ says Brophy. “Nissan has put in nearly £1m in kit, stuff that the college could never have got, like modern robotics and hydraulics units.’’ Now more than 100 Nissan apprentices attend Gateshead College every year at a cost of between £2.2m and £2.5m to the car maker. Production department apprentices undertake a two-year apprenticeship programme for an NVQ in Performing Engineering Operations, welding qualifications, key skills, ECDL (IT) and NVQ in Performing Manufacturing Operations. Attendance at college is combined with block attendance at work to ensure apprentices are 'job ready'. And the college also runs similar apprenticeship programmes with other companies in the Nissan supply chain. Thyssen Krupp set up a new £1.5m facility in the plant to supply parts for the Qashquai model and spent £180,000 on sending apprentices on a 30-week course at Gateshead College to give them the same qualifications as the Nissan apprentices. Apprentices training at the Skills Academy have worked on a special group project based on the Japanese concept of ‘Kaizen' or 'continuous improvement'. The project covers key themes such as quality, cost and delivery to prepare apprentices for the working world. This project has been further developed in Nissan's programme which will see apprentices develop their knowledge through undertaking further welding and fabrication qualifications. There are further developments in the pipeline. Last summer Nissan announced it was investing more than £200m in building an electric car battery factory in Washington, creating up to 350 jobs and boosting lowcarbon industry in the region. The factory, which will produce 60,000 lithium-ion batteries each year, presents another opportunity for Gateshead College

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It has been a true partnership with industry, Nissan has put in nearly £1m in kit, stuff that the college could never have got and early this year Mick Brophy is travelling to Japan with Nissan to see how plants operate over there. The partnership between college and manufacturer has attracted a lot of attention in the automotive sector. Russians have visited on a fact-finding mission as they look into a possible partnership with Nissan. The Auto Transport and Electro-mechanical College in St Petersburg plans to form a partnership with Nissan’s new manufacturing plant in the Russian city and it is using Gateshead College’s ACE as a benchmark for best practice. When the new £100 million Nissan manufacturing plant in St Petersburg is complete it will employ around 750 people with a currently planned capacity of up to 50,000 units initially per year. There was recognition from closer to home last year when Ofsted inspectors awarded the

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college grade 1 ratings in six areas including quality of provision, achievements and standards and leadership and management. For the first time in its history Gateshead College achieved outstanding grades in every area. Teaching and learning were deemed to be outstanding; the Ofsted report recognised that the college is a national exemplar of good practice for teaching and the use of innovative learning resources. The college’s commitment to providing a wide range of courses and tailored training programmes for the local business community, including organisations such as Nissan was also praised. No wonder, looking back at the decision to partner with Nissan, Mick Brophy says: “It was certainly a strategic decision that has paid off for us.’’ n

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Hartlepool College of Further Education has a new man at the helm and Michael Bretherick is passionate about vocational training as he explains to Peter Jackson >>

BUILDING ON PRACTICAL VALUES

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Michael Bretherick believes himself to be unique. That is not to say the newly appointed principal and chief executive of Hartlepool College of Further Education has already let power go to his head. It’s just that, prior to his new post, he was vice principal and deputy chief executive for five years and has been at the college for 30 years. As he says: “I’m probably only one of two people in the country who has gone from being lecturer to principal in the same college. I know of only one other and he has retired.’’ And he has taken over at an exciting time,

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overseeing the completion of a £52m project to build a new college adjacent to the present building. As we speak, through the windows of his office, we can see bulldozers and other earth moving equipment clearing the site for the vast new complex. The new building will be ready for occupation by the college’s 9,000 full time and part time students in 2011. “It’s a phenomenal site, it’s a real unbelievable hit for Hartlepool; it will absolutely transform the town centre, it will give a kick of life to the town and a little bit of style and panache and sense of place that was not there before and it has incredible

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support from stakeholders,’’ he says. But it has been a long journey to get here. Over a period of about five years the college had floated the ideas of a higher education centre, a vocational training centre, and a move to the Victoria Harbour development. It has gone through two full strategic studies and a fully funded feasibility project. It spent two years in a capital round with the Learning and Skills Council and it was one of 174 colleges applying to the LSC for funding to develop for the 21st century and then went into a competition whereby the 174 were whittled down to 12 successful

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applicants, one of which was Hartlepool. Bretherick argues that the new building has been designed to reflect the values and philosophy of the college. “The new college is predicated on the skills agenda, built completely around developing the young person and older person as being people who want to make their way in the world in whatever way they choose. “We have decided that certain skills priorities will be reflected in the skills provision inside the new building but we have also made sure it’s completely flexible to adapt and to move quickly as skills priorities change.’’ This is a commitment which, he says, is rooted in his own background and the college’s. He says of his predecessor David Waddington, who has just retired. “We shared a commitment to the skills agenda and regeneration and placing the college at the centre of the town in terms of employers, skills, workforce development and we saw further education as having a question mark put in front of it in terms of what is it you do best. We jointly decided the best thing we did was in developing the workforce, the skills set and trying to help the economy and life chances of people in the town by improving liaison with employers and improving commitment to skills. “What we are doing is to make sure people on vocational programmes have the same opportunities for themselves and have the same expectations of them by the staff and the same choices and outcomes as they would get if they had opted simply for an academic route.’’ Obviously the economy, in Hartlepool and elsewhere, needs a skilled workforce, but, given that employers complain so much about a lack of traditional academic skills, why this emphasis on what Bretherick terms `parity of esteem’ for vocational skills? He turns the question back on me, with a `why not’? “Why is vocational education any worse than any other type of education? Should we be saying to people that they should be studying ancient Greek or the History of Art and Media Studies and English and Geography as traditional A-Levels? “No, our engineers will service life support

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

Anybody who can’t see that skills development is important to the future of this country is very blind

machines, our engineers will service aeroplanes; do you think when it comes to life support machines and aeroplanes that you want someone with lower ability, do you want somebody with low skill development doing that? “No, I don’t think you do, you want to say that those skills are precious and the country needs to invest to develop those skills and competencies and to be proud of doing so, rather than to cringe and to say that those are things that may be done by migrant labour or by people who will determine to do that after having done a traditional

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academic route through sixth form.’’ He also argues that someone who undergoes vocational training does not forego an enriched life and he cites a medical doctor as someone who undergoes vocational training at the highest level and a surgeon, who is `a technician of incredible skill’. “That’s what skills are: it’s applying advanced knowledge and advanced competence to application of incredible skill. “We are very proud of what we do, we are very proud of our heating engineers, we are very proud of our hairdressers and our graphic designers and of our welders who are building a rig you can see from our windows. Anybody who can’t see that skills development is important to the future of this country is very blind.’’ But, he insists, Hartlepool College still provides for those doing a general education. However, he argues that this is not the only route to achieving the highest postions. He points to a former student of the college who studied for a National Diploma in Construction. “A cynic might have said to him that if he wanted to get in on the world and become a civil engineer and reach a really senior position, then shouldn’t he have been doing a traditional A-Level route? Well this guy went on to university, got a First Class Honours in Building and is now head of construction arbitration for PricewaterhouseCoopers in San Francisco. That’s what you can do with vocational education rightly applied.’’ He quotes another example, which also serves to reinforce the college’s pride in its apprenticeships, of which it has some 550. In addition, it has almost 100 students on the Entry to Employment scheme, e2e, to allow youngsters not in education, employment or training, to progress to an apprenticeship. “There was a guy who didn’t even start as a school leaver who was kicked out of school at 14 and came to the college and was looked after by what is now the e2e team and this guy not only went through inclusive learning and e2e and went through to apprenticeship and has now got a successful four-wheeldrive servicing company on Teesside where he employs three other people; he’s now a successful businessman.’’ And he is not unique. n

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OPENING A DOOR OUT OF RECESSION When the recession started to bite Teesside University had a plan – and it proved to be an award winner, as Laura Woods explains to Peter Jackson Teesside has suffered as much as anywhere in the economic downturn, with some high profile closures and attendant job losses. Laura Woods, director department of academic enterprise at Teesside University says: “We started over a year ago thinking Tees Valley had not been that badly affected by the recession, but, as time went on, it became noticeable in some parts of the private sector and the process industry has suffered.’’ She has also noticed greater resistance among employers to recognising the need for workforce training and less demand for consultancy services.

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But the university has not been on the back foot during the recession. With some 28,000 full and part time students it is a major economic player in its own right and is proud of its origins as Constantine College set up by a local shipping magnate in 1930 to work with business. “Working with business is part and parcel of what we do and it’s a really explicit element of our mission, we aim to be as responsive as possible to the needs of business in the way in which we structure our courses and our research activity,’’ says Woods. To meet the needs of local businesses and to

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One Door: Laura Woods and Teesside University forging partnerships with Colleges play a direct part in helping the local economy during the recession, last year Teesside University drew up a 16-point action plan. This contained a range of measures to stimulate or support the local economy, from halving the time the university took to pay bills to bringing forward £2.2m worth of work on university buildings and providing low cost business start up incubation units on campus to graduates and others launching new enterprises and bringing jobs to Middlesbrough. This plan weighed heavily with the judges who named Teesside University the Times Higher Education Supplement University of the Year.

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

As Woods says: “We won it for the way we embed business needs into what we do at the university.’’ The university also won the Outstanding Employer Engagement Title for the Leadership Management Programme it has developed for the Chamber of Commerce. As part of its 16-point plan, it also increased its Knowledge Transfer Programme, whereby its graduates work on projects to introduce innovation into businesses, with the number of programmes trebling to 30. “There has been a huge increase, not only have we promoted them and had more

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services on offer, there has also been a lot more interest from business, even during the depths of the recession so that activity has continued at full strength, which has been surprising, but also really heartening.’’ As part of the plan, the university also set up a Science to Business Hub, funded through the European Regional Development Fund to support the process industry. “This is really all about helping small businesses, particularly in the speciality chemicals sector, get access to the benefits of research and development, trying to improve the skills and the know-how of the >>

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supply chain,’’ says Woods. But one of Teesside University’s main initiatives during the recession has been its involvement with One Door, an initiative by the university and Teesside’s five further education colleges: Darlington College, Hartlepool College, Middlesbrough College, Redcar and Cleveland College and Stockton Riverside College. OneDoor, which describes itself as, `a single point of access to higher level training across the Tees Valley’ was set up 18 months ago. “The university and the five colleges have had a very strong partnership which dates back over 10 years, called the Higher Education Business Partnership and we work together very closely to promote progression opportunities into higher education. In terms of trying to improve business access, we thought we could use that partnership to improve business access to the skills offers that we all have and develop a very simple route into the colleges and the university and what they can offer in terms of skills provision,’’ says Woods. On the basis of the formation of OneDoor, the university won funding from the Higher Education Funding Council to help businesses and individuals come through the recession by using the mechanism of OneDoor. “Winning this grant meant we had the opportunity to offer real financial help to businesses and individuals who have been affected by the recession. So we widened the offer from the university and the colleges to include skills and professional development opportunities, innovation, advice and guidance for unemployed people and a range of services such as graduate placements for companies which could benefit from short term help.’’ This also entailed a partnership with One North East and Business Link which agreed to match the grant the university had won through their various funds. “We have effectively set up a three-way partnership because we are now working very closely with Business Link to promote services to business and matching up what we can offer through OneDoor with Business Link products,’’ she says. A business can approach OneDoor either directly or through Business Link, and One Door will diagnose their need and whether it

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We have to face the fact that businesses are struggling

can be helped through a consultancy or similar project and, working with Business Link, determine whether the company is eligible for support through a Business Link service such as an innovation voucher, and this service could be discounted through a subsidy. The scheme embraces a number of areas such as innovation advice and guidance, help for individuals and groups facing redundancy, higher level skills programmes such as professional development perhaps for redundant managers and innovation programmes such as consultancies, Knowledge Transfer or graduate placements. But, is there not always a danger with such

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schemes that they only encourage some businesses to do what they would do anyway, without public subsidy? “If we hadn’t been sitting in the middle of a recession, the answer to that question would probably have been yes or at least potentially,’’ she says. “But I certainly don’t think that’s the case now. We have to face the fact that businesses are struggling and even if occasionally one business is helped that perhaps didn’t need the funding and nine other businesses who did need funding were helped – that’s better than doing nothing at all.’’ One person helped had been made redundant after 12 years, talked to the university’s advice and guidance counsellor and is now enrolled on a higher level management course with Redcar and Cleveland College and is being helped through funding. In another case, a company had developed software for service businesses in the UK and urgently needed all its material, including its software instruction, translating into Chinese for a trade mission happening within four weeks. The technical and marketing translation was done in the university funded through a Business Link Innovation voucher. Services provided could span the university and the further education colleges with, for example, a long term training plan in management development on an FE level programme with the aim of progressing to a higher level foundation degree in leadership and management. This OneDoor activity is geared towards helping businesses through the recession, but Woods firmly believes it also has longer term implications for the services the university and the further education colleges can provide the wider business community. “It all ties in very well with our other interactions with business, it’s another piece in the jigsaw. In the short term it’s helping us to give businesses what they need to get them over the recession through a course or a project, but we also see it as an opportunity to start a new relationship with that business. This kind of activity is crucial in helping us build these long term relationships and helping us inform what we are delivering through our courses.’’ n

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) at Sunderland School of Leadership & Management Did you know that among our 1000 management students we have CMI students from both the North East and all over the world? The CMI is the internationally recognised and widely regarded as the premier professional management institute and offers programmes for first line and aspiring managers up to senior executives. Our CMI level 7 Strategic Diploma in Management and Leadership is proving to be very popular, assessment is designed to evaluate and have a positive impact on strategy and strategic focus. In addition we have an MBA exemption and progression agreement with the University of Sunderland.

From September 2010 we will also run the CMI Level 3 Diploma in First Line Management. For further information go to the order/download a prospectus link on our website www.citysun.ac.uk or call Rob Whitton, Head of Sunderland School of Leadership & Management on 0191 511 6832 or 07803 745153

Sunderlandschoolof

leadership &management

CoSC Leadership & Man BQ Ad.indd 1

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Hatching enterprise: Dr Lynn Hall, Bernie Callaghan and Collette Hume teaching and learning enterprise

Digitally enterprising SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

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A high tech economy needs digital experts but they must be entrepreneurial digital experts, which is why the University of Sunderland has introduced a new course Colette Hume has recently started her own business, Sweet Digital Media, operating from rented premises in Sea Road, Sunderland. The 32-year-old, who comes from Sunderland, has started the business, which produces websites and digital content, because she sees an opening for such an operation on the high street. She explains: “I’m trying an alternative method of selling websites with a place above a shop on a busy shopping street because I feel that this is an area of the market that’s not being reached.’’ And she has taken the step of starting out on her own, despite being occupied doing a full-time postgraduate course at the University of Sunderland. In fact, it was this very course, an MSc in software enterprise, that allowed her to set up her own business. She is one of 17 postgraduates doing the new one-year course, which was introduced on the initiative of the university and Sunderland Software City. Sunderland Software City, was set up to make the North East a national and international location of choice for software companies. With One North East funding, the university and Software City have been able to offer bursaries to 15 postgraduates to do the new course. Professor John MacIntyre, dean of the faculty of applied sciences at the university, explains: “We are building enterprise into the

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

curriculum right across the undergraduate and postgraduate suite of programmes. We are looking to stimulate and help to educate students on programmes in software engineering and software development and intelligence systems and we are trying to attract talented students to come to the university.’’ Sunderland Software City chief executive Bernie Callaghan explains that the establishment of the new MSc was driven by Software City’s agenda of increasing skills levels in the region to attract digital businesses and the desire to boost entrepreneurialism in the sector. He says: “What we are doing with the whole initiative is to try a lot of different things and see which ones work. But central to the whole thing is the fact that in order to attract high quality businesses you have to have high quality employees and this was an obvious way to achieve that. The industry wants enterprising, skilled people.’’ He adds: “We have always had a culture of employment within North East England and we have also traditionally had a culture of public sector employment, but the world has changed and the digital and software sectors are particularly enterprising and they don’t require you to have a huge corporation to be successful. If you look at what Sage started from and what it is now – it’s the UK’s >>

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Central to the whole thing is the fact that in order to attract high quality businesses you have to have high quality employees and this was an obvious way to achieve that. The industry wants enterprising, skilled people SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10


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largest software company and the only FTSE 100 software company.’’ Postgraduates on the course are encouraged to focus on the development of their own businesses, or, if they have not started a business before the course, they must have a business idea, even though that can be developed or changed as the course progresses. Dr Lynne Hall, programme director for the MSc in software enterprise, says: “Everything the students do is tailored for their own business and most of what they learn will be useful for their business, so there is a focus on mentoring and personal business development, so they get a lot of time with academic mentors and business mentors.’’ She adds: “One thing we have tried to do is to stop them being students and to accept the fact that they are businesses from day one. We want them to change from being a graduate to being an entrepreneur.’’ But, not all students have to finish the course with their own business: the most important thing is that they learn to be entrepreneurial. Callaghan says: “The whole concept of entrepreneurialism includes interpreneurialism. Many businesses want enterprising people who show enterprise but within the realms of a corporation rather than as an individual setting up their own business.’’ This is however, backed up and supplemented by training in general business skills and theory, with external experts such as lawyers and accountants delivering lectures on subjects such as business planning or tax. Dr Hall adds: “The students also have two modules in which they can study anything they like at masters level available in the university, but, rather than them having an assessment, if, for example, they study e-commerce, we get them to write a white paper in which they focus on how that module has impacted upon their business and how they are going to use that information from that module to take their business forward. “We also spend a lot of time looking at business modelling and how to change your business model and how to develop a business model for your business. What we were finding was that many of our young entrepreneurs have a product but they don’t

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We see this as a key appointment in terms of the university’s agenda and our agenda in that there is somebody to drive the enterprise side of things

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really have a business; a business will not survive on one thing alone, so we spend a lot of time focusing on the idea that a business is not short term, but a business should have longevity, so we put a lot of emphasis on sustainability.’’ The course also devotes time to sources of funding and how to apply for available grants. The students’ businesses or business ideas range from website design, e-commerce solutions, the provision for educational material for the NHS and games development. All the postgraduates on the course automatically become members of the university’s Software City Hatchery. This is a physical location within the university where students – and not just the MSc in software enterprise students – with businesses or business ideas receive support with talks from legal, accountancy and other business specialists. It has 12 hot desk spaces for the 25 students who are currently members and a room for meetings with mentors or potential clients. To reinforce its drive for enterprise, the university has recently appointed Professor Charles Sellers as Professor of Software Innovation. Bernie Callaghan says: “We see this as a key appointment in terms of the university’s agenda and our agenda in that there is somebody to drive the enterprise side of things.’’ Colette Hume is an enthusiastic supporter of the course. She says: “It’s amazing. It’s really fantastic to think of some of the different people we are exposed to. For example, we have just come out of a three-hour session with Mincoff Solicitors, which, under normal business circumstances, you would have to pay for. We have been given so many different opportunities. “I had no business experience before this and I have just learnt so much in such a short space of time. It’s great to have somebody you can turn to. Last night, a Sunday night, I was at home and at 8pm I had a query and was still able to call my mentor Lynne (Hall). “A year ago, I never thought that I would do the things that I have done and that I now have the confidence to do.’’ n

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INTERVIEW

STRIVING TO DELIVER Middlesbrough College seeks to serve business by developing relationships, as director of employer responsiveness Jeff Milburn explains to Peter Jackson

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

Jeff Milburn remembers proudly one encounter with a local businessman shortly after the new £68m Middlesbrough College opened two years ago. The businessman, a managing director, visited the new college at its single Middlehaven, site, an area which had been run-down for more than 20 years. “I brought him in and his first words to me were: `Wow Jeff, this has got so much energy,’ and that just underlines to me that there’s some good things going on here.’’ Visiting the college, it’s easy to appreciate what that businessman meant. It’s bright, wide internal street-like corridors, teaming with students, give the impression of a vibrant

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shopping centre. The college boasts a restaurant, bistro, two hair salons, two beauty salons, a spa suite with spa bath, a six-courts sports hall and so on to cater for some 11,000 students, tutored by more than 1,000 full and part time staff. Nearly 1,500 of these students are in employment and studying for vocational and professional qualifications, in addition to some 1,500 distance learners. This means that the college currently serves 273 different employers in the public and private sectors. These include names such as: Asda, Corus, Tetleys, BSF, Cleveland Police, Middlesbrough Council and Hartlepool Council. Courses range from Entry Level 1 to Foundation Degrees. >>

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The college’s contact with employers is co-ordinated by the employer responsiveness directorate, which Milburn describes as `the focal point for employers’ initial contacts with the college’. “We adopt an holistic approach. We don’t just go in to an employer promoting our targets, we go in promoting the college as a whole, we have found that’s the best way of engaging with employers.’’ After an initial contact with an employer the college does an assessment of the organisation’s training needs and then the employer responsiveness directorate uses that assessment to pull in knowledge from across the college to meet the employer’s needs. “With Tetley it took about six months of discussions before we actually agreed on what we were trying to develop there and we have been working with Tetley now for about the last three years and we have done a

substantial amount of training every year and that has been on the back of delivering some Performing Manufacturing Operations Level 2 NVQs. Since then, we have delivered things like health and safety programmes, cleaning programmes and business management programmes. All those programmes have been developed as the relationship has grown.’’ He adds: “Our focus has been on developing a successful relationship with the employers, whether it’s the first line contact people, the marketing people or the advisory people, we have a regular review of those procedures and we feed back all the strengths and we feed back all the improvements that we need to have. The intention is that when an employer has had a relationship with us, it’s a positive one, so that, with our competitiveness within the region we can be confident that employers are getting what they are asking for.’’ Throughout the process he says the College

We work in industry, we work with the company and we work with the learner. This brings in many challenges

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communicates regularly with the employer, not least because the demands of organisations, particularly within the private sector, mean that the college has to remain flexible. “We work in industry, we work with the company and we work with the learner,’’ says Milburn. “This brings in many challenges: shift patterns, times when employers don’t particularly want you there so it may be a case that we then have to reschedule - that’s the flexibility colleges can provide and we take a lot of pride in doing that.’’ Also, if the College finds it cannot match all an employer’s training needs, it will seek to bring in a partner, such as Teesside University. He adds that that process has to be monitored and if people frequently do not attend meetings or if rescheduling becomes a regular occurrence, then that will be reported to the employer. “The importance of all our training is what impact has it had for an employer, good or bad. When you know that, you can reflect and change and adapt,’’ says Milburn. The college has now appointed employer responsiveness representatives to each of its directorates. Along with the employer responsiveness directorate itself, these representatives hold monthly meetings. “That’s where what you could call the cross selling goes on. Every engineering company

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may well need training help in health and safety, may need help in customer service or sales or management training, and there’s where we then cross sell within the groups,’’ says Milburn. On a strategic level, the college directors also have fortnightly meetings at which questions of employer engagement are discussed. But surely, the relationship between the college and the individual learner is as important as that between the college and an employer, particularly as, for a lot of people in such work-related learning, it may be a long time since they have undergone formal training? “That’s where the skill of the on-site assessor comes in and the relationships that the assessors develop in breaking down the barriers that people have and their perceptions of training, that’s something we work very hard on as a college,’’ he says. “But a lot of people buy into it straight away

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

and they buy into it because they want to be there and they want to develop that knowledge because they see that knowledge as an opportunity to develop themselves. There are a lot of people out there willing to learn. Sometimes there are problems where people have had a bad experience, whether at school or with a previous training company and that’s where we find we have to break down barriers.’’ Middlesbrough College also has a distance learning programme, with eight programme areas, mainly in the care sector, including subjects, to Level 2 and Level 3, such as palliative care, safeguarding young children and equality and diversity. The college boasts an overall success rate for its distance learning students last year of 93%. The ages of the distance learning students range from 19 to 60 years-old and their employers are mainly public sector, from

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organisations such as Middlesbrough Council or Cleveland Police. Private sectors employers which use distance learning for their staff include UBU and Rosedale Residential. The distance learning programme is supported by an administrative team based at the college and 60 part time tutors. Jeff Milburn recognises that Middlesbrough College is only one among a number of training providers in the region from which employers can choose and competition is likely to become even fiercer with looming public spending restraints which will hit funding for training. But he believes the college is well-placed to rise to the challenge. “We feel as though we have a strong employer base with good relationships and our future, on the back of those relationships, is commercially funded programmes and, as the funding changes, our strength will be in developing our flexibility in delivery.’ n

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COMPANY PROFILE

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Teesside University won the grand title of University of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards Ceremony and also picked up the Outstanding Business Engagement Award at the event. Here we look at how it is helping the creative media industries and backing up its claim to be one of the most business friendly universities in the UK

CREATIVE TEESSIDE

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OU might not expect to pick up the latest tips on fashion photography or acting in movies by going to university for a day, but that’s exactly what is on offer as part of Teesside University’s latest programme of short media courses and workshops to help creative talent flourish in the region. Shoot Fashion with Keith Moss and Kate Fearnley, a practical workshop on 23 February, is designed for new and aspiring fashion photographers and is part of a series being organised by the University which is winning plaudits for its business engagement agenda. Led by former Vogue and Wella photographer Keith and internationally acclaimed fashion designer Kate, the workshop is ideal for new industry entrants and freelancers wishing to establish themselves as fashion photographers. Middlesbrough-based Kate was recently named ‘Cosmopolitan Ultimate Young Fashion Entrepreneur’ and her dresses are worn by Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud, Katie Price, Sinitta from X-Factor/Dancing on Ice and X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke. Aspiring photographers will learn the ropes about fashion industry photography and will work with make-up artists, stylists and set designers to photograph top models wearing Kate’s latest collection. The Shoot Fashion workshop is just one example of the new creative activities coming on stream at Teesside. Other areas tackled include ‘Acting for Green Screen’ and a series of ‘Leading Roles’ workshops in which Sharon Paterson, Assistant Dean in the University’s School of Arts & Media

BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 10

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Workplace drama: Sharon Paterson and an actor during one of the Leading Roles workshops


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and a former actress, explores with other actors sensitive issues around leadership and management such as handling conflict and dealing with people. Sharon says: “The workshops are contributing to the University’s growing workforce development agenda and have attracted funding from Skillset, One North East and the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Economic Challenge Investment Fund.

COMPANY PROFILE

INTO TOP GEAR…

WE’VE CLEARLY SET UP STALL AS THE UNIVERSITY FOR BUSINESS AND THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES ARE SEEN AS VITAL TO THE REGION’S FUTURE PROSPERITY “We’ve clearly set up stall as The University for Business and the creative industries are seen as vital to the region’s future prosperity. Teesside is ideally suited to help with this kind of subsidised training as it has the combination of talented digital media specialists and the latest technology. “Our green screen suite has some of the best facilities for special visual effects around and is housed in the Institute of Digital Innovation, the nerve centre of our DigitalCity initiative, and we’ll be using it for the workshops aimed at actors and film directors. “There’s no specific training for actors using green screens and performing with virtual animated characters in the North of England at the moment”, she said. The two-day Acting for Green Screen workshops are priced at just £99 for North Easterners. Scott Watson, Business Account Manager for the School of Arts & Media, said: “Our funding is designed to help build a strong creative industry base in the North East. “The first Green Screen session in March is for freelance actors. It will be led by international theatre director Malachi Bogdanov and Mark Buschbacher, from the University’s School of Computing, who worked on special effects for Universal Pictures’ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The second two-day workshop will be in May or June on Directing for Green Screen,” said Scott.

Rob Smedley with a 1967 red Ferrari at Middlesbrough’s mima Top Gear automotive art event. The car was presenter Jeremy Clarkson’s car of choice at the show

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EESSIDE University’s School of Science & Engineering slipped into top gear when it was re-launched by Normanby-born Rob Smedley, Felipe Massa’s race engineer at Ferrari. The School was previously known as the School of Science & Technology. Rob gave a guest lecture about his career as a F1 race engineer and was later presented with an honorary degree. He said: “I was really proud to be part of this re-launch. You’re providing the missing link between a classical technical education and what you need to have in the real world. The students are in the right place here. “To be successful, you need to know how to lead a team. As a race engineer I need to be able to manage people and this applies to any

discipline. Managing a group of people is at the heart of your job and you’ll never cut it as an engineer without this. What the School of Science & Engineering is doing is really very important, trying to bridge the gap between study and life after graduation.” Professor Simon Hodgson, Dean of the School, said he was delighted by Rob’s support. “This is much more than a change of name for the School - it’s the launch of a completely new mission: Developing the Problem Solvers, Innovators and Leaders of the Future.” “It’s a new and distinctive style of university education. The key for us is ‘employment readiness’ and the ability to demonstrate that our graduates lead the field in being productive and useful from day one.”

THE UNIVERSITY FOR BUSINESS For more information contact Teesside University: Tel: 01642 384 422 Email: business@tees.ac.uk www.tees.ac.uk/business

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BUSINESS QUARTER | WINTER 10


APPRENTICESHIPS

WINTER 10

A home from home approach to a skilled workforce Decent homes demand skilled workers to maintain them and the Apprenticeship program should meet that demand A South Tyneside organisation, which specialises in managing, maintaining and improving social housing, has got its own house in order by recruiting more than 40 apprentices in the last three years. South Tyneside Homes, a management organisation created by South Tyneside Council, looks after around 19,000 homes in the borough. To help service the needs of its tenants and leaseholders, the organisation regularly recruits apprentices across four main trade areas: plastering, electrical work, plumbing and joinery. The Apprenticeship programme is helping South Tyneside Homes to meet both its current workload and its future demands. In particular, this includes major improvements to council homes within South Tyneside to bring them up to the Government’s ‘Decent Homes Standard’ by 2013. Gillian Jenkins, human resources and organisational development advisor, South Tyneside Homes, adds: “The Apprenticeship programme helps lay solid foundations and

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

South Tyneside Homes: Gillian Jenkins, Human Resources and Organisational Development Advisor Gary Kirsop, Head of Property Services, South Tyneside Homes, Scott Gray, Apprentice. has a positive impact on our customer satisfaction levels. “Because of the structure of the Apprenticeship programme, and the hands-on approach to gaining skills, each of our apprentices understands who their customers are and how to deliver a first rate service to them. “This is backed by our overall levels of customer satisfaction, which are consistently high and improving year on year.” One apprentice who is making a positive impression is 20-year-old Scott Gray from Hebburn. Scott is taking an Advanced Apprenticeship in Wood Occupations

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after discovering a love of woodwork a few years ago. “I started my Apprenticeship here two years ago and I’ve absolutely no regrets. As well as my day-to-day learning, I also go to college every few months for a two or three week block. “I would recommend an Apprenticeship to other people as it’s the best way to continue learning and kick start your career. If you jump straight into a full time job without training, you might not have anything to fall back on. As well as gaining national qualifications, the support you get through an

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


WINTER 10

APPRENTICESHIPS

Financial gains for employers of apprentices The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has announced it will provide up to 5,000 Apprenticeship Grants to the value of £2,500 each for employers who take on an unemployed 16-17 year old as an apprentice. Each ‘AGE 16 and 17’ grant will be in addition to the costs of training which are also met by NAS. The grant is only available until the end of March 2010. For further information please contact NAS on 08000 150 600 quoting ‘AGE 16 and 17’ or visit apprenticeships.org.uk to nominate an employer or apprentice in the north east for an award, go to apprenticeships.org.uk.

Apprenticeship is exceptional.” In recognition of his good work, Scott recently became a runner-up at the 2009 Association Public Service Excellence (APSE) local authority apprentice and trainee awards. In a bid to drive forward the Government’s ambition for Apprenticeships, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) was launched in April 2009. The NAS has total responsibility for the delivery of Apprenticeships including advising employers, engaging with learner organisations, providing funding for Apprenticeship training and managing a web based Apprenticeship vacancies system. John Wayman, regional director, National Apprenticeship Service, added: “Apprentices bring new ideas and a competitive edge to organisations, as well as a pool of skilled people to select from for future promotion.” n to find out more about employing apprentices within your organisation, please contact the national apprenticeship service on 08000 150 600 or visit the website www.apprenticeships.org.uk

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

Success: National Apprenticeship Awards 2009 Winners

APPRENTICES PAY More than four out of five people in the North East are more likely to use a business if it offers Apprenticeships to young people, according to research recently released. The research, which was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the National Apprenticeship Service, asked a sample of consumers in the North East what factors they considered when buying products or services. It found that people are just as keen to buy from a company that supports young people by employing an apprentice as they are from a firm that has fair trade agreements with its suppliers (77%), or one that has strong environmental credentials (74%). As well as highlighting the potential business benefits of employing an apprentice, the research also shows local consumers’ resounding support for young job seekers in today’s economic climate with 92% of people in the North East stating that they think it is important for companies to take on apprentices during the recession. John Wayman, Regional Director, National Apprenticeship Service said:, “We’ve known for some time that apprentices can bring significant benefits to the organisations they work for, and this research just confirms that. I would urge businesses that don’t employ apprentices to take note and find out more about what hiring

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a young person can do for them.” To encourage more employers to recruit young apprentices, the National Apprenticeship Service has just launched a new grant of £2,500 for employers who take on an unemployed 16-17 year old as an apprentice. The grant, which is called “AGE 16 and 17”, is only available until the end of March. n any employers interested in receiving support through age 16 and 17 should contact the national apprenticeship service, either by completing the online enquiry form on apprenticeships.org.uk or by calling 08000 150 600 and mentioning ‘age 16 and 17’.

The search is on: National Apprenticeship Awards 2010 If you’d like to celebrate the work of an apprentice or the success you as an employer has achieved through the Apprenticeship programme, you have until Friday February 26 to enter the National Apprenticeship Awards 2010. In its seventh year, the prestigious awards recognise the achievements of individual apprentices and the organisations that invest in them.

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10


CASE STUDY

WINTER 10

TRAINING TRANSFORMS

South Tyneside College can provide employee training at a number of levels, as just two examples illustrate trained workers become confident employees Sheila Hollern, a classroom assistant at Biddick Hall Infants, had always struggled with literacy and suspected that she may be dyslexic. It affected her confidence and she never felt comfortable studying when she was at school and consequently left with no qualifications. Sheila says: “When I was studying at school I never got any help, I knew what I wanted to say but when it came to putting my ideas down on paper I always struggled. Everyone at Biddick Hall Infants kept on saying that I should push myself further and have more confidence in my abilities.” Head teacher Myra Edwards recognised that

she had an outstanding employee who needed extra support. So, Sheila was enrolled on the NVQ Level 2 for Teaching Assistants course and the Skills for Life Literacy qualification at South Tyneside College through the Train to Gain programme, where she was seen by a dyslexia specialist who confirmed her suspicions; this gave a starting point to construct a tailored course to suit Sheila’s needs. Sue Hawley, a lecturer for the Employment Engagement and Delivery department at South Tyneside College, says: “Sheila has been a pleasure to teach; she always goes the extra mile in all her work and really tries hard. When she was diagnosed with dyslexia we began to

New confidence: Sheila Hollern teach her methods to work with the condition rather than fight it. Simple techniques have allowed her to make huge progress and now Sheila is enrolling to study her NVQ Level 3 for Teaching Assistants.” Sheila says: “The response from my family has been the best bit, my husband works at sea and we often write to each other, he has noticed a massive improvement in my confidence and literacy skills, my fourteen year old daughter has told me that I have inspired her to do the best she can, that alone makes it all worth it.” Since studying at South Tyneside College Sheila has taken on extra responsibilities at work including organising and managing a child and parent cooking club at the school. n

Training helps beat credit crunch One North East company is beating the recession by investing in its staff and - with sickness down 60% and full staff retention - the initiative is already paying off. Lees Cleaning, based in South Shields provides commercial cleaning services to firms across the North East and employs 250 cleaning staff. Cleaning manager Kathleen Richmond discovered South Tyneside College could provide NVQ level 2 training to up-skill all her staff. The College also helped Lees Cleaning to access funding through the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) ‘Train to Gain’ service. Kathleen says: “In a recession, it’s very tempting to tighten your belt and stop spending but, after talking to South Tyneside

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

College, we decided to do the opposite and start investing in staff development. “The recession makes workers feel insecure in their jobs, which in turn can lead to people becoming distracted and stressed, and we wanted to make sure this didn’t happen. “Because everyone is better trained and subsequently more motivated – we have seen

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a 60% decrease in the number of sick days taken. This means our supervisors can now concentrate on doing their own jobs rather than those of absent staff, which has helped boost the overall quality of our work and increased staff morale so reducing customer complaints. “We’ve also seen 100% staff retention since the start of the initiative where previously we were recruiting new staff every week. This has saved an enormous amount in advertising costs. Hayley Ward, Head of Marketing and Commercial Development at South Tyneside College, said: “We are delighted that Lees Cleaning has seen the benefits of training. In a time when many businesses are worrying about surviving the forthcoming year, training your staff can be one way to put your company ahead of the game.”

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


WINTER 10

count me in

Managers at Fusion Contact Centres are reaping the rewards of a new partnership with City of Sunderland College. The Sunderland-based company has been working with the college to develop the skills of its management team. In 2008, Jason Turner, Fusion’s head of operations north, met with Rob Whitton, head of City of the Sunderland’s School of Leadership & Management to discuss the development of management capability. Whitton introduced a range of leadership and management programmes in which a selection of managers and team leaders began a series of academic studies to improve their

leadership knowledge and skills. Whitton says: “The college now provides several programmes to complement Fusion’s in-house training. These include the Foundation Degree in Leadership & Management. In Jason Turner I recognised someone who genuinely sees business improvement through people as key to their operation and Jason has been more than happy to lead by example as he takes his own development very seriously”. From a modest start in 2007, the Foundation Degree in Leadership and Management now has more than 150 students. Turner himself enrolled on the degree and, a year later, has

Following the success of the first year, it was clear that the academic programme was beginning to pay dividends

EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS

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CASE STUDY been named student of the year. Turner says: “Fusion provides extensive learning and development facilities but we wanted to make sure we continued to invest in and develop our talent by seeking innovative initiatives. So, we met the college to discuss leadership and management programmes and this seemed an ideal opportunity to complement our internal programmes with an academic qualification.” Turner recalls: “Following the success of the first year, it was clear that the academic programme was beginning to pay dividends. I met with Rob and was introduced to further development opportunities available to the company. Rob introduced and explained the foundation degree and explained the programme and its contents. It quickly became apparent that my personal sponsorship of this would not only reinforce the group’s commitment to academic programmes but also provide me with some personal growth. I agreed to trial this programme on behalf of the group so as to establish any potential benefits. “Based extensively on practical application within the workplace, the program has allowed me to revisit the various management models I have encountered throughout my management career, discuss them in academic terms and with a wider group and then reapply them back into my own business. This has had some startling results: for example a core module on leadership led to a comprehensive review of my management team, which encouraged me to take more of a consultant approach to my organization, considering its strengths, weaknesses and areas of development. Following this review, I restructured the team, implemented revised personal development plans and re-engergised the leadership subject. As a result, we are seeing further improved results, greater engagement and reduced costs. “The foundation degree is an incredibly effective programme, which I’m convinced will bring both personal and professional growth to both my organisation and me. Despite many successful years in people management, it’s living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.’’ n

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10


CONTACTS

winter 10

Organisation

Department/School

Telephone

Website

Bishop Auckland College

Business Training Services

01325 379 600

www.bacoll.ac.uk

City of Sunderland College

Business Solutions

0191 511 6759

www.citysun.ac.uk

Cleveland College of Art & Design

Business Development

01429 422 000

www.ccad.ac.uk

Darlington College

Business First

01325 503 282

www.dcbusinessfirst.co.uk

Derwentside College

DTIU

01207 585 914

www.derwentside.ac.uk

Durham University Business School

Management Development Centre

0191 334 5548

www.durham.ac.uk/dbs/mdc

Gateshead College

Services to Business Team

0191 490 2258

www.gateshead.ac.uk

Hartlepool College

Business Development Centre

01429 404 005

www.hartlepool.fe.ac.uk

Middlesbrough College

TS2 – Training Solutions

01642 333 322

www.mbro.ac.uk

New College Durham

Durham Training Solutions

0191 375 4333

www.newcollegedurham.co.uk

Newcastle College

Business Contact Team

0191 200 4000

www.newcastlecollege.co.uk/employers

Newcastle University Business School

Reception

0191 243 0770

www.ncl.ac.uk/nubs

Northumberland College

Advice Centre

0800 162 100

www.northumberland.ac.uk

Northumbria University

Switchboard

0191 232 6002

www.northumbria.ac.uk

Open University

Professional & Management Development

0191 477 6100

www.northumbria.ac.uk

Redcar & Cleveland College

Business Training Solutions

0164 251 3200

www.cleveland.ac.uk

South Tyneside College

Main Reception

0191 427 3500

www.stc.ac.uk

Stockton Riverside College

SRC Business Solutions

01642 865 577

www.stockton.ac.uk

University of Sunderland

Business Gateway

0191 515 3555

www.sunderland.ac.uk

University of Teesside

Business & Enterprise

01642 384 580

www.tees.ac.uk

Tyne Metropolitan College

Work Force Development

0191 229 5000

www.ntyneside.ac.uk

SPECIAL REPORT | WINTER 10

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EDUCATION, TRAINING AND BUSINESS


EMPLOYER Training

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ell trained motivated staff drive up performance, improve retention and boost company profits. At South Tyneside College, we make it simpler than ever to gain business skills you or your employees need. Whether it’s professional training, a short one day course, a tailor made programme or an Apprenticeship we have the variety of courses to meet your needs.

Why choose South Tyneside College for your training needs? • Affordable quality – with some courses offered for FREE, why look elsewhere? We've even got the capacity to offer subsidised training. • Courses delivered by highly skilled and motivated staff with relevant work experience. • Hundreds of courses to choose from – off the shelf or tailor made, we are sure to have the programme to match your needs. • Courses designed with employers in mind.

We are committed to providing high quality, flexible and cost effective training solutions to business, both private and public sector. If you are unsure about how we can help you, or just want to talk about your training needs telephone us on 0191 427 3696, visit www.stc.ac.uk/employers or email: cdu@stc.ac.uk


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Education, Training and Business