North East Connected

Companies explore future of education

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 16.03.07COMPANIES from across the North East have been given an early glimpse at the future of education, in a series of tours around a multi-million-pound, soon-to-be-opened college facility.

Sunderland College invited businesses from across the North East to take a special tour of its City Campus, which will open its doors in September.  The £29million facility, a base for as many as 2,000 learners, has been designed for engineering and manufacturing students, as well as other vocational students, studying beauty, hospitality and tourism.

The hard hat tours, held over the last week, and have been attended by representatives from companies including Geek Talent, Sunderland BID, Crown Plaza and Sunderland crane manufacturer Liebherr.

Stephanie Hogan, personnel officer at Deptford based Liebherr, said that the company was excited to work with Sunderland College in the future, having seen how the new facility will boost learning among the city’s young people.

She said: “It’s great to see Sunderland College building a presence in the city centre, something that will really boost the local economy with such a significant increase in footfall.

“The facilities that the college will be able to offer from this new site will be state-of-the-art and ideal for preparing young people for the world of work.”

She added: “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.  We are very much looking forward to working alongside the college in future.”

The tours are taking place ahead of the summer, when the finishing touches will be applied to the building, in the Park Lane area of town.  The building, which stretches into Holmeside, will see students – who would otherwise have been based in the college’s Hylton Campus – have their classes delivered from a 135,000 square feet space.

The new campus includes a spa, hairdressers, barbers, bakery, restaurant and travel agents, all accessible to the public, and follows £20million of previous investment in Sunderland College’s Bede Campus, now home to sport and visual performing arts spaces which were completed in 2014.

Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive of Sunderland College, said that the tours proved to be popular, with businesses really 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 feedback from the tours – which provided a chance for our partners and other local businesses to see the spaces and hear how they will be kitted out in only six months’ time – has been absolutely fantastic, and we very much look forward to building on those relationships over the coming months.”

To find out more about the City Campus, or to watch a virtual tour of the building, visit

City Campus will further add to Sunderland’s city centre offer, following last year’s opening of Keel Square, the recent announcement of funding to turn the Old Fire Station into an arts hub and Siglion’s plans to redevelop the former Vaux site.  With the Bridges shopping centre’s planned expansion and the arrival of the Hilton Garden Hotel at the Stadium of Light, the heart of Sunderland is being transformed.

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