A UNIQUE centre dedicated to training and skills in the energy sector has opened its doors on the banks of the River Tyne.
Representatives from government, local businesses, councils and more were at the official opening Newcastle College’s Energy Academy in Hadrian Road, Wallsend.
The multi-million pound 20,000sq ft facility will provide a centre of innovation, training and development in the energy sector, with the north bank of the Tyne already earmarked as a key site in renewable energy.
The academy is part of phase 1 of North Tyneside Council’s Learning Village.
It was officially opened by Tim Yeo MP, president of the Renewable Energy Association and chair of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. He was joined by nuclear physicist and writer Walt Patterson.
Learners were on had to provide demonstrations in welding, electronics, turbine and solar panel testing and diagnostics, helping show potential future employers how they could train, recruit and retain high skilled workers.
And the academy – which will offer a range of courses including specialist diplomas, apprenticeships, and foundation, honours and masters degrees – has received praised from senior government officials.
Charles Hendry MP, Minister of State for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said: “I want to offer my congratulations to all of you who have made the opening of the Energy Academy possible.
“Renewable energy not only provides us with the clean and secure energy that we need to meet these goals; it generates billions of pounds of investment and potentially hundreds and thousands of jobs and is a key growth sector for the UK economy,
“One of the big challenges that we have when talking about new energy infrastructure is making sure we maximise the economic benefits to the UK in terms of skills, jobs and manufacturing.
“This new facility will help employers train, recruit and retain highly skilled workers, initially focusing on offshore wind, a sector in which the UK is a world leader both in terms of installed capacity and in terms of attractiveness for industry.
“It is a huge encouragement to see that this kid of work is underway.”
The Academy is believed to be one of the first educational facilities of its kind in the north east.
The North Bank of the Tyne has already attracted world-class manufacturing organisations in the offshore and energy sectors and is a major area for investment and job creation.
The Academy is a multi-partner, cross collaboration between Newcastle College, local authorities, Sector Skills Councils and strategic stakeholders in the sector and evolving industry.
Centre plans were developed with support from major employers, including Shepherd Offshore Group, Duco Ltd and Wellstream.