HARTLEPOOL College of Further Education is set to become a national trailblazer thanks to a partnership with world-renowned clothing company Barbour.
They have joined forces to launch the Barbour Academy which will offer students tailor-made training for future careers in the industry.
Such novel academies could now be launched at colleges across the country.
The Hartlepool Mail was first to report the ground-breaking partnership and yesterday the Barbour Academy was officially launched at the company’s base in the full glare of local, regional and national media.
Andrew Steel, assistant principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “This is a great example of people working together in partnership and doing something positive to get people into employment.
“This is just the beginning and there’s no reason why there can’t be Barbour academies across the country.”
His sentiments were echoed by Barbour group finance director Brenda Readman-Bell who said: “Hartlepool College of Further Education showed us they had the same passion as we did for this academy scheme.
“We owe the college a huge thank you.
“Through their drive we have been able to achieve this.
“It is a wonderful achievement as a partnership and it could become a national initiative with academies in colleges the length and breadth of the country.”
The Barbour Academy will offer students specially-tailored study programmes, including technical, practical and management skills, as well as the chance to learn traditional textile skills.
Barbour has been operating in the North-East since 1894 producing heritage and lifestyle clothing that is famous around the world.
Set up in partnership with the college and the Sora Group, the Barbour Academy aims to revive interest in careers in the industry by delivering apprenticeships, employability skills and bespoke training for those currently working or seeking work in the textile industry.
Housed on the first floor of Barbour’s manufacturing unit, where the brand’s most famous product the classic wax jacket is still produced, the Barbour Academy will offer study facilities including two ICT rooms, a teaching room and a practical machine area.
Students will be taught by staff from Hartlepool College of Further Education, Barbour and the Sora Group dependent on their study programmes.
All students enrolled on the Barbour Academy will be offered a guaranteed interview with Barbour at the end of their studies, as well as the opportunity to be introduced to key business contacts within the region for employment opportunities in other manufacturing sectors.
Students will also be given the opportunity to move on to the next level of their NVQ or apprenticeships should they wish to continue their studies further.
Dame Margaret Barbour, chairman, of J Barbour and Sons, based in South Shields, said: “I am very passionate about getting young people into jobs and we should all be doing our bit to find them employment.
“With the decline of manufacturing in the North-East, we have struggled in the past to attract staff to positions at the factory and we hope the Barbour Academy will help to revive and sustain these skills and offer employment opportunities to people in the North-East who may not previously have considered a career in manufacturing.”