Companies have enjoyed an early glimpse at the future of education in Sunderland.
Businesses from across the region have taken part in a series of tours around the £29million Sunderland College City Campus, which is due to open its doors in September.
It is full steam ahead for the campus – despite a recent announcement that the college might have to shed up to 42 members of staff.
Sunderland College bosses will carry out a review of staffing levels in a bid to save £2.4million as Government cuts continue to hit.
But, it is hoped the new City Campus will be a huge boost to Wearside and business leaders were invited along to see it.
The facility, a base for as many as 2,000 students, has been designed for engineering and manufacturing, as well as other vocational courses, such as beauty, hospitality and tourism.
Stephanie Hogan, from crane manufacturer Liebherr, said the company is excited to work with Sunderland College in the future, having seen how the new facility will boost learning among city youngsters.
She said: “It’s fantastic to see that the provision will cover manufacturing and engineering, which is one area in which we – as Liebherr – welcome investment.
“It is important for local business that students are work-ready and can make a smooth transition into industry and by learning in this environment, students will have the greatest possible chance of success in their chosen career path.”
Throughout the summer the finishing touches will be added to the building, behind Park Lane bus station.
Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive of Sunderland College, said that the tours proved to be popular, with firms keen to see the new campus and understand how they can work more closely with the college.
She said: “City Campus is a real game changer for the college, and will transform the Sunderland cityscape.
“Beyond that, though, it is a resource that businesses the length and breadth of the region will be able to benefit from, as we deliver work-ready, highly-skilled young people who have trained in an environment that really is at the cutting edge.”
The principal said the feedback from the tours, which gave businesses the chance to see the spaces and hear how they will be kitted out, had been fantastic.
Speaking about the possible redundancies last week, she said: “This is a very difficult time for everyone working at Sunderland College, particularly those that are directly affected by the review.
“We will be working closely with those staff, and face-to-face briefings have already begun in order to offer advice and guide them through the consultation.
“We have met with the trade unions and we will continue to work closely with them throughout the process.
“This is a challenging time for the college, but we remain fully committed to delivering the highest standard of education for all our learners.”