Our region is well on its way to meeting its target of 100,000 new jobs by 2024, a figure set by North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) in a bid to train a workforce with the right skills for local industry.
As a further education and skills provider, it’s our role to help young people develop the specialist vocational and employability skills they need to be prepared for the world of work and fill these roles. It’s important we can help them make the transition into jobs by equipping them with the skills that local employers are demanding.
That’s why I believe it’s more important than ever to bring hands-on learning into the classroom, or more accurately, into all learning environments whether that be classroom, workshop, realistic working environment, or in the workplace itself.
By hands-on learning, I mean both experiential (learning by doing) and first hand engagement with industry and employers, both of which I believe are critical to success because they:
• Motivate and enthuse young people, maintaining their engagement throughout the challenges of the year
• Inject vocational relevance and industry expertise into teaching, providing rich examples of application and colourful stories of success (and sometimes of failure) which reinforce learning
• Provide realistic experiences that prepare students for their next steps, gaining valuable insight into the expectations of the workplace and reinforcing pathways for progression
• Involve innovation, collaboration and communication - skills that I would argue are vital to the successful transition into employment across a broad range of sectors
• Enable young people to link complicated and abstract theory to practical application so that they can see the value in their learning
• Provide opportunities for real-time problem solving in a safe environment so that young people are able to work effectively and cope with the challenges of the workplace.
As Vice Principal of Newcastle College, one of my priorities is to create a climate where young people are able to enjoy their learning, achieve their qualifications and achieve to the best of their ability. Hands-on learning is critical to this by providing vocational students with the opportunity to learn through a broad range of methods, practice their skills and master their vocational discipline.
All of this will support their progression into sustained and meaningful employment when they leave our College while helping to close the skills-gap in our local economy.