New centre aims to help ignite an interest in engineering careers

Paul Woolston, Chair of North East Local Enterprise Partnership, and Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, opened the IGNITE Centre for Engineering & Innovation.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Paul Woolston, Chair of North East Local Enterprise Partnership, and Norma Redfearn, Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, opened the IGNITE Centre for Engineering & Innovation.'Picture by Jane Coltman

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A new academic programme is aiming to help youngsters engineer a new career.

TyneMet College has launched its new IGNITE Centre for Engineering and Innovation to deliver an exceptional academic programme of engineering related skills and qualifications.

The expansion was officially opened last week by Mayor Norma Redfearn and Paul Woolston, chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP).

Guests enjoyed an exclusive tour of the facilities, which are equipped with the latest industry equipment in welding, electrical engineering, hydraulics and machining.

Mrs Redfearn said: “This is a fantastic space and will benefit employers by providing the long-term skills that are industry relevant.

“We can already see a shift in North Tyneside – employers are crying out for specific skills for vacancies they just can’t fill at the minute. IGNITE is part of the bigger picture to provide qualifications that help businesses grow.”

The centre received more than £1m from the NELEP to fund the development; alongside considerable investment from the North Tyneside Strategic Partnership and The Platten Family Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

Mr Woolston said: “The opening of the superb IGNITE Centre is a demonstration by TyneMet College of its commitment to the future of young people and the regional economy.

“The North East LEP through its Growth Deal with Government has invested £1m into IGNITE which will teach young people the engineering skills so highly prized by industry.

“The quality of this facility and its focus on industry relevance has been recognised as STEM assured by the New Engineering Foundation, the first college in the north of England to achieve this.”

The IGNITE Centre features a host of educational spaces, including an area dedicated to the region’s industrial heritage.

Visits from local school children will enthuse them about careers in engineering and manufacturing whilst learning spaces offer the opportunity to find out more about engineering in a STEM-related capacity.

Jon Vincent, principal and chief executive of TyneMet College, said: “As the first College in the north east to hold the prestigious STEM Assured standard, we are a leading provider of STEM education in the region and continue to work through innovative partnerships to make a strategic investment in our accommodation and resources to support the economic needs of the region.

“The College has a rich tradition in engineering, a department that has not only seen a rapid expansion of a growth in learners but a buy-in from companies and our partners who see a significant and evident investment in developing engineering skills and qualifications to secure the future of skills for the region, allowing us to compete on a global scale by providing global skills.”