The Platten Family Fund at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland has made a founding grant of £50,000 to support the creation of the IGNITE Centre for Engineering & Innovation at TyneMet College.

The IGNITE Centre for Engineering & Innovation, an exciting and forward-thinking project from Tyne Metropolitan College, will house a comprehensive technical training suite. The Centre will provide specialist training in fabrication, electrical engineering, welding, milling and turning.

IGNITE forms a significant expansion of TyneMet’s Engineering department and will be a cutting edge facility equipped with state-of-the-art engineering equipment to deliver a wide spectrum of training services to individuals and employers.

Philanthropist, Tony Platten, explains how the Centre will support more young people to think about a career in engineering and believes that young people are currently unaware of  engineering as a career option.

Tony said: “I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my career, and went into engineering from an early age. In the last four years I have lectured on electronics and entrepreneurship and I have been disappointed that many students do not know what they want to do with themselves or their careers.”

Tony adds that the IGNITE Centre will become a powerful asset in the North East to fill a shortage in engineers: “Through its shipbuilding and locomotive heritage, the North East was once a hub of engineering and a force across the world."

“However by the year 2025 it is expected that there will be a shortage of around 800,000 engineers and technicians and the North East in particular has a shortage of mechanical engineers, electronic engineers and electrical engineers for all of the new industries.”

The launch of the IGNITE Centre marks another achievement in the College’s STEM journey – already known for its leading position in the region for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths; TyneMet’s expansion of its engineering capacity realises the College’s ongoing commitment to supplying forward thinking learning facilities to boost the local economy.

Tony Platten, also a former electrical engineering firm owner, argues that local firms in the North East are suffering due to a skills shortage as young talent leaves the region to pursue careers in other parts of the UK.

“Local firms are losing out to industries in other parts of the UK and have not got the apprenticeship schemes in place to recruit more engineers with an enthusiasm for engineering.

“However, the enthusiasm and dedication of TyneMet College and its staff is an asset to the local community. I am impressed with plans for the IGNITE Centre and proud to be a founding donor to its cause, which I hope will become a leading school of engineering and innovation for young people in our region.”

The IGNITE Centre will feature a host of educational spaces - including an area dedicated to the region's industrial heritage. Visits from local school children will enthuse them about careers in engineering and manufacturing whilst learning spaces offer the opportunity to find out more about engineering in a STEM-related capacity.

Jon Vincent, Principal & Chief Executive of TyneMet College, said: 

“There is a growing need for specialist engineering training. The new facility is well positioned to enhance our offering to employers and to stimulate the North East’s response to employer demands in a fast moving sector.

“The launch of the IGNITE Centre in the heart of our local community is testimony to that commitment. As the only college in the North East to hold the prestigious STEM Assured standard, we are passionate about enthusing and engaging young people in the field of engineering.

“We are delighted to be in award of the Community Foundation Project Grant from the Platten Family Fund at the Community Foundation. The founding donation will supplement Growth Deal Funding provided from the North East Combined Authority (NECA).The Platten family's commitment to encouraging young people into engineering careers is one we absolutely endorse - their interest in the IGNITE Centre is highly appreciated.”

Research from the Community Foundation’s Vital Signs suggests that too few young people in Tyne & Wear have the confidence to set their sights on higher skilled jobs. Derry Nugent, Head of Philanthropy Services at the Community Foundation, comments how philanthropy can be used to raise aspirations whilst boosting the local economy.

“As an active philanthropist Tony Platten has a strong philosophy about how we can support projects and initiatives which create work opportunities for young people in our region.

“Through the support of thoughtful, targeted philanthropy projects such as IGNITE Centre will become a vital asset for our local community as more young people are encouraged into engineering to create a pool of talent in our region.

“Tony wants to encourage more young people to think about engineering as a career option but the key is to retain our young talent and provide opportunity through employment in the region.

“I’m confident that the IGNITE Centre will be able to do just that as it seeks to prepare young people for future industries whilst working with local employers to create a pathway to work.

“By creating a generation of enthused future engineers philanthropy can help to create a platform for North East firms to grow, as talent can be recruited locally.”

The IGNITE Centre for Engineering & Innovation is due to open in September 2015. For more information please visit www.tynemet.ac.uk