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Apprenticeships set up Teesside businesses for success

05 Dec 2022

The skills to fuel workforce growth across the Tees Valley are being engineered at Middlesbrough College.

From accountancy and customer service to digital and engineering – a whole range of in-demand skills are being nurtured for ambitious companies.

Middlesbrough College Group’s apprenticeship and training arm, Northern Skills, has trained more than 2,000 apprentices, putting it in a strong position to help shape the economic landscape of the region.

You only have to look at the likes of Sembcorp Energy UK, headquartered at Wilton International in Middlesbrough, to see how tailored training is already paying dividends for its business.

That’s because Middlesbrough College’s approach is not only to keep pace with the skills businesses need to innovate and grow, but to stay ahead of the curve and create programmes that meet future requirements.

The Group’s expert team of tutors and advisors – many of whom come from industry backgrounds – are tuned in to the trends shaping the opportunities and challenges local businesses face.

What’s more, between them, the team has the right knowledge and understanding for each occupational sector.

Teesside-based Sembcorp is a leading provider of sustainable solutions supporting the UK’s transition to Net Zero and has worked with Northern Skills for almost two decades to future proof its workforce.

Graham Taylor, HR business partner, knows all about the benefits of taking on apprentices, having started his own career as an apprentice.

He said: “We’ve worked with Northern Skills and its sister operation TTE for years to bring on apprentices, and it’s proved an effective part of our succession plans.

“In fact, much of our workforce began as apprentices and have worked their way up to fully qualified team members, including many of our senior team.

“Our philosophy is to ‘grow our own’ and apprenticeships really support that thinking. Learners join us having already spent a solid two years at the College learning all about our sector and building fundamental skills.

“Our job is to then open up opportunities for them to further develop their skills, support their learning and ultimately invest in them and their career.

“We also regularly sponsor apprentices through degree level qualifications, and we find that really helps build loyalty among our young workforce.”

Sembcorp’s latest cohort of 14 apprentices is its biggest intake to date and includes apprentices across finance, IT, labs, maintenance, and operations, as well as its first ever HR apprentice. 

The energy giant also just scooped the title ‘Large Business of the Year’ at Northern Skills’ annual apprenticeship awards, recognised for its commitment to developing apprentices.

As part of the apprenticeship process, Northern Skills supports employers with recruitment, providing them with a shortlist of students’ CVs.

Once the apprentices have started, its team of assessors and regional managers work in conjunction with managers to ensure their success.

The training provider knows there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to apprenticeship training, and that’s why its programmes can be tailored to achieve specific goals.

Programmes are carried out in the workplace too, meaning learners get proper hands-on experience, as well as online and in the specialist industry-leading training environments at Middlesbrough College – including its £20m STEM Centre and TTE’s world-class facilities. 

Matt Telling is group director of business engagement and partnerships at Middlesbrough College Group, responsible for helping both employers and students take advantage of the opportunities available in the region.

He said: “We’re proud to work with employers like Sembcorp, who see the value in working with young ambitious learners and giving them an opportunity to kick start their career.

“Apprenticeships can encompass a whole range of different training methods that can be tweaked and modified to suit a business’ needs. Perhaps they need new technical skills to adapt their service offering or are looking to retrain their staff.

“We work with businesses across the region to train apprentices who are workplace ready and can hit the ground running.”

Middlesbrough College Group delivers in excess of 100 courses to thousands of learners every year across all levels, through Northern Skills and sister operation TTE, which supports local and international students’ journeys in the oil and gas, process, manufacturing and engineering sectors.

Matt is keen to meet with businesses and employers across the region to understand their needs and how Middlesbrough College Group and Northern Skills can offer support. For an informal chat, contact Matt on 01642 333902 or at

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