Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 10.16.40More than 80 youngsters and unemployed people have found work thanks to a new Blyth-based specialist training provider.

STEP has been created by Paul Stonebanks, the founder of one of the world’s leading training companies, AIS. Paul recognised the opportunity to develop high quality basic training and support programmes specifically designed for the unemployed and young people looking to get into industry for the first time.

Based at Blyth Workspace, where STEP has two classroom facilities, the organisation works closely with individuals to change mindsets, instil confidence and ultimately help them make the first move into industry.

The fully-funded programmes give participants the best possible chance of securing employment or progressing into apprenticeships and higher level training while providing employers with motivated and informed personnel.

Those who pass first level training with STEP are able to progress onto level 2 progression pathways with AIS’s new ‘Connect’ programmes.  These programmes are highly geared to industry needs and lead directly to work experience, traineeships and apprenticeships.

One of the first programmes to be developed by STEP is a 10 day course which gives people the basic safety skills and mindset needed to work in the offshore, renewable energy, construction and health and safety sectors.  This employability course equips people with the initial skills to start a career in oil and gas, wind or construction and includes help with CV writing, interview techniques and career mapping.

One of those delegates is David Wells, aged 38 from Ashington.  David was out of work for three years after losing his job.  Despite applying for hundreds of positions, David struggled to even get job interviews. Within days of completing the STEP programme, David secured a job as a warehouse operative with a local company.

David said: “Completing the STEP programme changed my life.  The instructors were brilliant.  They gave practical, invaluable help with my CV and interview techniques that really worked. One of the tips was to wear a suit to interview.  When I did this for my first interview – I was the only one who did and got the job!”

Skills expert, Rob Storey, is heading up STEP. He has extensive experience in the education and skills sector having held senior level positions at Newcastle College, Cogent Sector Skills Council, Engineering Services National Training Organisation, the Building and Engineering Services Association and more recently AIS Training.

“By establishing STEP in the Blyth Workspace we have been able to bring all of the support we offer under one roof,” said Rob.  “It’s a modern, easily accessible building that provides exactly the right environment  in which to fire the aspirations of the people we’re working with.

“It is well documented that the UK is suffering from massive skills shortages which is one of the reasons we are lagging behind the productivity levels of other major industrialised countries. At the same time employers are telling us that many job candidates are simply not up to the task and lack basic skills. Unsurprisingly one of the most desirable skills is a positive, proactive attitude,” explained Rob.

“STEP works closely with industry to make sure we are delivering exactly the type of people employers need.  This is all about focusing on every individual and maximising their talents.  A key part of getting the long-term unemployed back into work is to fundamentally change the way they think.  Many simply don’t believe they are capable of getting a job.  We turn this around into positive thinking and making them believe anything is possible.

“It’s about inspiring people to achieve.  Getting people to think about their futures and focus them on what they want to do. The rest follows naturally. The feedback we are getting from our programmes is phenomenal.  Our work is really starting to have an impact.  As well as attracting more public sector finance, we are helping people to change their mindsets and look positively towards a future job and career.”

Councillor Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council and chair of Arch, welcomed the difference STEP has made to local people, commenting:  “I’m always delighted when I visit Blyth Workspace and see the STEP classrooms full of people who are so eager to find work.  The training programme has already achieved phenomenal success and every job it helps create is another boost to our economy.”

Arch was established by Northumberland County Council in 2011 as a private-sector arms-length development company to drive capital economic development, physical regeneration projects and business growth across the county.

It generates commercial income from investment, development and estate management.  Supplemented by other funding streams, profits are recycled into regeneration activity, inward investment and business support creating a ‘profit for purpose’ business model which delivers sustainable benefits to communities across Northumberland.

With a portfolio of one million square feet of space, Arch is now building speculative business space throughout Northumberland.  The portfolio consists of industrial workshop and warehouse units, office buildings, suites, business parks and managed workspace.  Property sizes range from approximately 200 sqft to 40,000 sqft.

Businesses interested in premises should contact Arch Commercial on 01670 528 460 or email

Anyone interested in enrolling onto a STEP programme should call 0191 341 0050 or email