History museum looks to the future

The North East’s most popular open-air museum is investing in the future of its workforce after implementing free business skills training.

Dozens of employees at County Durham based Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, are benefitting from free training at a time of redevelopment for the museum, which recently received a £10.9m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The training, which includes short courses on SEO, Excel and Microsoft Access, is supporting the ‘Remaking Beamish’ project, which plans to boost visitor numbers and create more jobs at the attraction.

The free courses are being delivered by Gateshead College as part of Go>Grow, a regional skills and enterprise programme, which is led by the college in partnership with 30 local training providers.

The programme was launched after £15m of funding was secured by Gateshead College from the European Social Fund through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Michelle Lagar, Remaking Beamish Project Officer (Skills), said: “We were all amazed at how hassle-free the process was. The courses were delivered within a month of us contacting Gateshead College and took place at our convenience in the workplace. The college were very proactive and we have now built a great working relationship with them.

“For a museum steeped in history, we’re very excited for the future. We are currently gearing up for a period of significant expansion, aiming to create 95 jobs and up to 50 apprenticeships with our Remaking Beamish project.

“The training delivered by Gateshead College was tailored to our needs, these bespoke courses have been well received by the staff that attended and they are now keen to apply what they have learnt in their job roles. The main aim for us all is to continue to provide the best possible experiences for visitors.”

The world-famous museum, which saw a record 750,406 visitors last year, was recently voted the Large Visitor Attraction of the Year for the fourth year running at the North East England Tourism Awards.

Communications staff completed Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) courses aimed at improving their digital offering, while dozens of other staff took part in Excel and Microsoft access courses.

The training is being provided by Gateshead College and Amacus as part of a wider initiative providing training to Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues (NCGV). Other members of the NCGV include the Baltic, Sage Gateshead, Newcastle Theatre Royal and City Hall. All of who are working in partnership with Gateshead College to ensure staff are equipped with the right level of skills to support visitors, audiences and the organisations.

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, said: “We are delighted to be delivering the training to Beamish. It is one of the leading tourism attractions in the country, and we are very proud to be supporting this iconic museum at a time of important growth for the company.

“Gateshead College work closely with organisations to support business success and development. We designed bespoke training to specifically meet the highlighted needs of the business and its customers following detailed meetings and discussions with the Beamish team.

“The feedback was fantastic and we look forward to continuing our partnership with Beamish in the near future.”

Go > Grow has the backing of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and the North East of England Chamber of Commerce.

Experts in the Go>Grow team will work to develop training that meets individual needs of businesses, or offer those who wouldn’t ordinarily undertake training programmes, the opportunity to access bespoke packages specific to their needs.

A tailor-made programme is then developed and delivered at any of the Go > Grow training provider sites, or within the premises of the individual businesses.

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