Mr Boles met with Marcus Clinton, Principal and Chief Executive of Northumberland College, Lynn Tompkins, Vice Chair at the College and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed to discuss Apprenticeships and tour the College's Kirkley Hall campus to view new facilities created through recent investment.
The Minister and Mr Opperman each planted trees within a new Apprenticeship Garden where they also met horticulture Apprentices, they also spoke to animal care Apprentices working within the College's Zoological Gardens.
Skills Minister Nick Boles said: "It was great to visit the Kirkley Hall Campus and see first-hand how Northumberland College is embracing an entrepreneurial approach that not only benefits students with career focussed educational pathways, but also the community through facilities."
Mr Opperman said: "Kirkley Hall is genuinely unique so it was brilliant to bring the Skills Minister to see the diversity on offer in terms of training, the special nature of the campus and witness the progress made with hundreds more students. The entrepreneurial vision of Northumberland College is such that its breadth of facilities is unmatched."
Marcus Clinton, Principal and Chief Executive of Northumberland College, said: "We offer over 40 Apprenticeships within industries as diverse as equine to horticulture and engineering to hairdressing.
"We work with over 700 businesses across the region and the Kirkley Hall Campus has achieved growth in the number of 16-18 year-old students of 54% since 2010 and growth of more than 300% for the number of students on Apprenticeships over the same period.
"Across Northumberland College we are passionate about developing employability skills and an income diversification agenda via real working environments allows us to do this. It is imperative students are put under real pressure, having to deliver so they develop the resilience, confidence and standards employers expect. It was good to demonstrate that to the Minister today through the visit to Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens, which opened in 2011 and today typically receives over 70,000 visitors per year."
Northumberland College's dedicated Business Training Solutions team manages the College's training relationships with employers and provides advice to businesses seeking to recruit Apprentices; this includes helping employers to access government grant funding of up to £1,500 per apprentice.
Left to Right: Mark Tabone (Animal Care Apprentice), Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Guy Opperman, Nick Boles, Lynn Tompkins, Marcus Clinton, Steven Sykes (Manager at Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens)