Newcastle United hero and Foundation Trustee Steve Harper kicks off new era for Newcastle College students
Newcastle United Foundation Trustee Steve Harper has challenged students from across the North East to chase their dream jobs by launching a partnership which promises to kickstart city centre learning.
The former Newcastle United goalkeeper turned first team coach is a keen supporter of further education and had set his sights on a university place as a teenager before full-time football came calling.
Harper was on hand to confirm a new three-year agreement between Newcastle United Foundation and Newcastle College, which confirms the latter as a strategic learning partner ahead of the opening of the NUCASTLE community hub in 2021 - the Foundation's flagship centre for the charity’s NU Futures programme to be built a five-minute walk away from St. James' Park.
He said: "Everyone at the Foundation is incredibly proud of our ongoing partnership with Newcastle College and the amazing opportunities this provides for young people in the local community to learn new skills, improve on existing ones and to gain confidence in themselves to gain employment.
"Our charity supports people of all ages, but times are tough in the current climate for young people especially.
"My son is in the second year of his A-levels at a local school and he's looking at taking that next big step and the unknown of moving to a new city - the benefit of this partnership with Newcastle College is local people won’t have to do move for new opportunities.
"With this partnership, they will see the services that Newcastle College provide through that link-up with the Foundation and they get that right on their doorstep.
He added: "The more we can do as a Foundation to support the local community and Newcastle College to build on that existing relationship further, it's a special day here."
Newcastle College and Newcastle United Foundation already work in tandem to encourage a dual career approach to sport and education.
College students enrolled on Level 2 and Level 3 sport courses represent the Foundation in the National Football Youth League.
Harper added: "As soon I mentioned the football programme to the students here, their faces lit up.
"I've worked alongside Terry Mitchell personally and I know what a brilliant head of the BTEC programme he is.
"To see the young lads with the Newcastle crest on their chest, you know just how much it means to them to represent the College and the Foundation's programme out on a national scale."
Foundation staff also provide industry insight and encourage future learning - delivering the National Citizen Service programme and working together with the Prince's Trust.
"This significant step forward builds on our existing partnership with Newcastle United Foundation and will strengthen our local communities by helping more people to develop new and vital skills," said Scott Bullock, Principal of Newcastle College.
"Together with the Foundation, we'll support young people to understand the education and career opportunities open to them, as well as developing new qualifications focused on filling skills gaps across the region. Exciting future opportunities include new adult education programmes, apprenticeships and BTEC qualifications in e-sports and coaching.
"The people of the North East, particularly young people, are set to be hit hard by the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit. Newcastle College and the Foundation's NUCASTLE centre will provide unrivalled dual-centre city-based learning opportunities for a broad range of students, helping them to get skilled and upskill, which we hope will provide some much-needed support at the right time."
Targeted work placements and traineeships will further benefit students seeking to bridge the gap between education and employment.
And links to the Foundation's centres in North Tyneside and Northumberland mean the partnership will impact positively on young people and potential employers regionwide.
"My son is in the second year of his A-levels at a local school and he's looking at taking that next big step and the unknown of moving to a new city - the benefit of this partnership with Newcastle College is local people won’t have to do move for new opportunities."