A landmark agreement between regional councils and education providers to develop the North East’s skills base could create more than 5,000 advanced manufacturing jobs.
South Tyneside and Sunderland Councils have signed a joint-agreement with South Tyneside College, Sunderland College, and the University of Sunderland to ensure that the proposed International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) – which will span land cutting across both areas – has the skilled people needed to succeed.
The councils, were given the green light in 2014 to press ahead with the IAMP,which has subsequently been designated as a Nationally Signigicant Infrastucture Project by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. They have signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the education providers, after recognising the need to equip the region’s future workforce with the necessary skills before starting work on site.
The MOU sets out an agreement to create ‘an innovative, integrated and systemic pathway to deliver the learning, skills and talent development needs of IAMP and its wider supply chain’.
Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, said that the MOU represented a positive step forward, as plans for the IAMP advance.
He said: “IAMP is a hugely significant site for both Sunderland,South Tyneside and the UK, and we expect a great deal of interest in it, as plans now get underway.
“We absolutely recognise the importance of a long-term strategic plan to deliver the skilled people we will need to ensure this park is sustainable for many, many years to come. This MOU is about those organisations best placed to deliver on skills in the area coming together and committing to delivery, and I’m delighted we have been able to get this agreement in place. It sends out a strong message to investors that we absolutely mean business.”
The International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) will be a 100-hectare site for advanced manufacturing. Located close to the Nissan automotive manufacturing hub in Sunderland, IAMP is a joint venture between Sunderland and South Tyneside Councils to develop a prime location for new automotive, logistics and offshore manufacturing businesses. It is expected that IAMP will attract £300m in private sector investment and create more than 5,200 new jobs over the next decade.
Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, said: “The level of collaboration between Sunderland and South Tyneside, both at a local authority level and between a number of key strategic organisations, including our colleges is helping to unlock a great many opportunities for us.
“It is vital that we maximise the economic benefit represented by IAMP and – in an era of persistent global skills shortages – our partnership will ensure that we have everything in place to drive significant numbers of adaptable, appropriately skilled nd innovative workforce to new and existing advanced manufacturing companies.”
One of the training providers that has entered into the agreement is Sunderland College.
Ellen Thinnesen, Principal and Chief Executive at Sunderland College, said: “This MOU is the start of a partnership that will deliver robust skills and innovation support infrastructure for a sector that will be absolutely critical to the region long into the future.
“Sunderland College has invested significantly in its City Campus, and that is part of a long-term plan to ensure we have the right environment to train and continually develop the engineers of tomorrow. It is crucial that business and education work hand-in-hand and the signing of this MOU demonstrates a long-term commitment to working together.”
Lindsey Whiterod, South Tyneside College’s Principal and Chief Executive, said that the MOU was important to keep the site as competitive and commercially attractive as possible.
She said: “We know that IAMP will prove to be a highly attractive site for investors. The North East has already gained a deserved reputation in this field, but it is vital that we do not rest on our laurels, and that we capitalise on the advanced engineering and manufacturing expertise within the region and further strengthen that capability to remain globally competitive in the 21st century.
The MOU sets out a long-term strategy to deliver the skills the region will need when the IAMP is at full capacity. To meet the sector’s higher-level skills needs, the University of Sunderland has also signed the agreement with partner.
Shirley Atkinson, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at the University of Sunderland, said: “The range of skills needed to support an operation on IAMP’s scale is huge, and as regional leaders it’s up to us to work in partnership to adopt a long-term strategic approach to nurturing these skills within in the region.
“Developing fit-for-purpose graduates with the higher-level skills employers need to thrive is what we do at the University, and that’s why we are putting significant investment into our academics and into enhancing our curriculum and facilities to meet the needs of the advanced manufacturing sector. Being a member of this partnership is a real statement of intent and a significant step towards developing the workforce of the future. ”
It is expected that businesses will begin to locate on IAMP from 2019.