Students across the Tees Valley are set to take lessons in the future of motoring following £500,000 of investment at Middlesbrough College – including a state-of-the-art Tesla.
Driving forward the North East as a trailblazer in the electric vehicle sector, the car will be used to teach motor vehicle and engineering students skills for future jobs in the ever-changing automotive industry.
It is one of several cars and pieces of hi-tech equipment the College has invested in with funding secured through the Department for Education’s Strategic Development Fund.
And it's not just school leavers who are benefitting.
Former apprentice turned business owner Martin Clare from Stokesley recently returned to Middlesbrough College 14 years after completing his motor vehicle BTEC.
He enrolled on the College’s fully funded electric and hybrid vehicle courses having spotted an opportunity to strengthen his skills while growing his business offering.
Martin said: “The electric and hybrid vehicle industry is huge, and it's only going to get bigger as the Government drives forward its plans to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.
“There aren’t many garages around here that can work on these types of vehicles and so it’s a great opportunity to grow my business and expand our offering.
“The College has changed markedly since I was here back in 2008/2009. Everything has relocated to the Middlehaven campus, and the facilities and equipment are second to none. I started my career here and coming back is really going to help my business take off.”
In a full circle moment, Martin recently took on his first apprentice from Middlesbrough College – 18-year-old William Kast from Guisborough – who'll also benefit from training in electric and hybrid vehicle management, maintenance and repairs.
Dave Payne, associate director of curriculum and quality for engineering at Middlesbrough College, said: “There is a national shortage of trained mechanics who can work on electric or hybrid vehicles and the majority of technicians that can, work for main dealers.
“There is only so long older hybrid vehicles will go back to these dealerships and so there is a huge gap when it comes to independents – and this could result in huge safety issues.
“We’re already working with local industry and have mechanics enrolled on our fully-funded, evening courses who are already learning how to safely isolate electric vehicles – we are talking a minimum of 400 volts so it can be incredibly dangerous if you’re not fully qualified.
“We’re also expanding our study programmes to introduce electric and hybrid vehicle elements. We could have easily continued to deliver the standard curriculum but it's amazing that the College is willing to fund these types of projects.
“Our main focus is to make sure students are employable and that they stand out in the job market – there are not many learners, or qualified technicians, who can say they’ve worked on a state-of-the-art Tesla.”
Middlesbrough College already works with more than 2,000 employers across the group which includes Northern Skills and TTE.
Through its ongoing investment in its facilities and course offering, the College is meeting the changing needs of local employers, helping to drive innovation and provide the skills underpinning the region’s success.
Dave added: “Our courses are designed with both students and business partners in mind, covering almost every area of the modern economy.
“For business owners, our evening courses are a unique opportunity to upskill their employees and futureproof their workforce.
“They’re designed to fit around home and work commitments and also open to apprentices too, giving employees the latest technical skills relevant to their ever-evolving industries.”
The College’s successful funding bid from the DfE will see the see delivery of programmes continue beyond the period of the actual development fund.
To find out how free technical training could help your business take off in 2023, click here.