Employers, training providers and teachers in Blyth met recently at the Port to outline their commitment to working more closely together to prepare today’s school pupils for their future careers.
The seminar called Bringing Education and Industry Together was held at the Port’s brand new Port Training Centre, part of the recently opened second phase of the Blyth Education and Community Hub. Attendees recognised a gap exists between the classroom and workplace and began the process of tackling the challenges faced with STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
Long term plans
Plans are already in place to replicate the recent scheme where 350 final year pupils from all of Blyth’s primary schools visited the Port in the summer. At that time the Port’s training subsidiary Port Training Services and the Blyth Tall Ship project – both leading partners in this project – hosted the visits that enabled students to learn more about Blyth’s nautical history and its hi-tech future.
They took part in challenges which tested their knowledge of STEM subjects and discovered the range of jobs the Port and related industries has to offer.
Alison Nicholson, head teacher of Malvin’s Close Primary Academy, said: “The visits were such a success that we were all determined to continue to find ways to raise our children’s aspirations and improve their opportunities and outcomes.”
The seminar – attended by 75 employers, teachers and pupils – was addressed by businessman and Blyth Spartans chairman Tony Platten, who said there was already a critical shortage of engineers in the UK and businesses and schools had to act now. He recognised a “disconnect” between what schools are delivering and what industry and commerce required, but insisted the incentive to connect the classroom and the workplace was huge: “If the North East has a skilled workforce companies will invest here,” he said.
Colin Bassam, the training manager at Port Training Services, said the overwhelming success of the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta coming to Blyth in 2016 had helped create a wave of optimism in the town and could provide a lasting legacy. “We showed that we can be leaders,” he said.
Plans are already underway to create a STEM Learning Hub through the Port Training Services, which would offer learning activities linked to schools’ curriculum with practical training using industry standard equipment.
Local businesses who wish to become involved in bringing together education and industry are asked to contact Elaine O’Connor on 01670 352556 or via email: elaine.o’firstname.lastname@example.org.