Training to gain for the North-East | 01 August 07

A husband and wife team are looking to help tackle the region’s skills shortages with the opening of a new training centre on Tyneside - with a little help from Ward Hadaway.

Dave and Jill Stevens aim to help up to 500 people a year gain valuable vocational qualifications in subjects including secretarial skills, IT and business administration from their base on Newcastle’s Hood Street.

The couple decided to open up the Pitman Training franchise after Dave saw the need for greater skills in the North-East from four years working on economic development projects in the region. Jill has also worked in the adult education sector since 2000.

Mr Stevens said: “What we are looking to offer is a package of courses which will give students the core skills to vastly increase the range of careers they can aim for.

“Our diplomas all end with examinations which are independently verified and give successful students a recognisable qualification which employers can rely on as a mark of their ability.

“We have already had a lot of interest from employers as well as individuals since companies recognise the importance of boosting their workforce’s skills and appreciate the flexibility which the training system offers.”

Courses last from between seven and 22 hours with students learning at the centre in individual work stations.

Jill Stevens said: “I think we offer the best of both worlds – flexible so that learners can choose to work at the speed that suits them, but in a centre with other students and tutors for interaction.”

Newcastle-based law firm Ward Hadaway helped the couple to secure the lease on the Hood Street premises so the centre could open up.  Lucy Guthrie, associate in the firm’s property department, handled the matter.

Mr Stevens said: “Lucy was brilliant. The lease was concluded in about a fortnight – it was super-fast and Lucy pulled out all the stops to enable us to move in at the right time.”

Lucy Guthrie said: “Dave and Jill were looking to move in and get started as soon as possible so we were glad to help. We wish them all the best with the training centre.”