Beginning as a North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) Anchor Collective, WD Close and Newcastle College have been working together since 2021 to produce skilled workers for the welding and fabrication sector. 

As the largest provider of further education in the North of Tyne area, Newcastle College is committed to developing the skills and talents of its students to succeed in modern enterprise and make a positive contribution to the prosperity of the North East. 

Innovative partnerships with local industry leaders, such as fabrication specialist WD Close, enable Newcastle College to align its curriculum and invest in skills in areas of local strategic importance, including green energy and the energy engineering supply chain, supporting the local economy and optimising employment prospects for learners.

Apprenticeships in Welding and Fabrication are delivered in partnership at Newcastle College’s award-winning Energy Academy, alongside its programme of Offshore Renewable Energy qualifications, where learners are supported by world-class facilities, industry experienced teaching, work experience placements and guest lectures and projects from industry (including from WD Close). 

So far, more than 40 apprentices have joined WD Close through the partnership, which is committed to training over 100 apprentices over the next 5 years. In June 2022, the partnership’s first female apprentice Courtney Newton was named The Welding Institute’s Apprentice of the Year 2022. 

In addition, WD Close has recruited six graduates from Newcastle College University Centre’s energy and engineering degrees, where they are working as part of a team leading on ground-breaking projects for the region. 

After just one year, the WD Close and Newcastle College partnership is successfully growing a skilled workforce which is aligned to the North East’s priority energy and engineering sectors. 

Commenting on the partnership, Kelly Scott, Operations Director at WD Close said: “Newcastle College is brilliant at listening to employers, co-creating with them and developing a talented workforce to meet their needs.  As an employer, my business needs are being supported, and Newcastle College welcomes my feedback on course development.  This ensures that learners develop the knowledge and skills needed for employment within my organisation and beyond.” 

Alan Goundry, Head of Engineering and the Energy Academy at Newcastle College, added: “Relationships with employers and industry leaders are central to the development of our curriculum here at Newcastle College, ensuring that our learners are equipped with the skills and experience that employers across our region really need.

“We’re especially delighted to be working in partnership with WD Close, a forward-thinking organisation who have made an incredible commitment to support our learners and graduates in the coming years. I am looking forward to continuing our work together and building on the success of our first year, developing a skilled workforce to support the growth of a thriving local industry.”