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 Council and Sunderland City Council 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 in 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 Significant Infrastucture Project by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
They have now signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with education providers to equip the region’s future workforce with the necessary skills before starting work on site.
The MOU aims to create ‘an innovative, integrated and systemic pathway to deliver the learning, skills and talent development needs of IAMP and its wider supply chain’.
Coun Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The IAMP is a hugely significant site for both Sunderland, South Tyneside and the UK, and we expect a great deal of interest in it.
“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.
"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 park will be a 100-hectare site for advanced manufacturing, close to the Nissan site in Sunderland.
The project 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.
Coun 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 appropriately skilled and innovative people to new and existing advanced manufacturing companies.”
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.
Lindsey Whiterod, South Tyneside College's principal and chief executive, 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."
Shirley Atkinson, vice-chancellor and chief executive at the University of Sunderland, said: “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.
It is expected that businesses will begin to locate on IAMP from 2019.
Picture caption: Dr Lindsey Whiterod, Martin Swales (Chief Executive South Tyneside Council), Shirley Atkinson, Coun Harry Trueman, Ellen Thinnesen.