Developing Northumberland’s workforce for a new net zero industrial age


As part of the 21st Century Workforce Development Initiative pilot, sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering, Northumbria University is delivering a mini-exec MBA programme to help executive leaders in Northumberland develop both their leadership skills and their knowledge of their county’s employer base.

The initiative is the first of its kind, being place-based and employer-led with the goal to harness the emergent opportunity for Northumberland to thrive within a net zero driven industrial age. The employers of Northumberland have helped to design the pilot’s four focused training programmes to develop their workforces and set the standard for driving workforce growth and capability.

As a leading UK offshore energy support base, the Port of Blyth was chosen to host the first workshop where academics from Northumbria’s Newcastle Business School addressed a cohort of senior leaders from 12 of Northumberland’s large employers. Over the coming months these workshops will cover high-level material typically found in an Executive MBA programme. The aim is to equip recently promoted senior leaders, or those ready to take on senior roles, with the business skills needed to ensure Northumberland fulfils its potential in the rapidly emerging low carbon economy.

Northumberland has several key investment sites to help in the drive toward clean energy and net zero and the 21st Century Workforce Development Initiative courses are underway to address some of what is required to support this drive, including; enhancing digital and data capabilities, management skills and this Mini Exec-MBA.

Dr Alex Hope, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Business and Law at Northumbria, said: “Through our research, knowledge exchange partnerships and professional development courses we already collaborate and engage extensively with businesses and policy makers across the region, so we are delighted to be involved with this powerful initiative to help create the leaders of the future. The opportunities in a new net zero industrial age are considerable, with clear benefits for the environment and for local job growth and prosperity here in Northumberland.

“Securing investment in the region can of course have its challenges. But you only have to look at the growing reputation of the Port of Blyth, where we are launching our first mini MBA, to see the potential. In recent years the Port has become an offshore energy hub of international significance and excellence and is a real driving force behind the Northumberland economy.

Martin Lawlor, Chief Executive at the Port of Blyth, said: “We are delighted to support the 21st Century Workforce Development Initiative. The Port of Blyth and its Energy Central partners are passionate about addressing industry growth skills, particularly within the Offshore Energy sector by bringing together employers, providers, and people within the Energy Central cluster. As a leading Offshore Energy base, we are perfectly placed to drive forward the skills required at all levels to support the growth of the sector.”