The ‘Levelling up and furthering equality of opportunity’ event hosted by north-eastern educational charity @NCFE on Friday 8th October successfully brought together key stakeholders from across the region to find workable solutions to levelling up and closing the disadvantage gap.

Among those speaking were Alex Miles, Director at the Northern Skills Network and Managing Director at West Yorkshire Learning Provider Network, and Chris Nicholls, the Area Director of Association of Colleges. The speakers focused on the importance of providing people of all ages, and from all walks of life with a world-class education and training, and in particular focused on the importance of providing an excellent offer, no matter the locality.

Also speaking at the event, NCFE welcomed T Level learners from local colleges, including Gateshead College and New College Durham, who talked about their journey with technical and vocational education so far and their ambitions for their own future – and the region.

Local businesses and education providers came together in attendance to discuss the importance of vocational and technical learning in providing the opportunity, means and motivation for all individuals to fulfil their potential, both in work and life.

The event also celebrated a momentous occasion in NCFE’s 170-year history as they relaunched and rebranded to better reflect their role in providing an end-to-end offering for learners, educators, and institutions across a lifetime of learning.

NCFE was born in the North-East but now operates as both a national and international learning organisation providing qualifications, content, and innovative assessments that help thousands of learners to progress their skills and to personally develop throughout their lives. With ambitions to become the country’s leading provider of transformational and technical learning solutions, they operate on the belief that no learner should be left behind.

David Gallagher, Chief Executive of NCFE, said:

“Everything we do at NCFE is with the aim of ensuring individuals from all backgrounds are able to access transformational learning experiences and maximise their opportunities throughout life. This event facilitated important discussions about technical and vocational education (in the region and nationally), and how we can work together to empower people to make the best possible ongoing choices about their futures.”

Alex Miles, Director at Northern Skills Network and Managing Director at West Yorkshire Learning Provider Network, said:

“It’s never been so important to provide young people and adults from all walks of life with world-class education and training in their locality, but especially the North. A baby born in Gateshead in 2019 will potentially die 15 years earlier than a baby born in Guildford. The link between education and health is vital, and we have the opportunity to address this, giving individuals from all backgrounds the best opportunities.”

Chris Nicholls, Area Director of Association of Colleges, said:

“Everything we do should be about the learner. These past 18-months has highlighted clear skills gaps and skills shortage; it’s important that we address learning loss and work to create a fairer education system. We must work to close these gaps by helping the unemployed to retrain and by building a stronger technical education system in order to level up and provide the best opportunities to all.”

Chloe Perrin, T Level learner from Gateshead College said:

“Our T Level course has been crucial to our learning; it has given us 1 on 1 experience with employers and settings, and we’ve had incredible support from our placements and classroom learning. We’re really excited to give back to the sector and to our region. There are notable barriers to employment in the North, and we would love to see more opportunities so we can reach our full potential.”

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