Partnership taps into higher level training opportunities

A new partnership between NWG Business and New College Durham is helping to recruit into new jobs and create higher level training opportunities.

New College Durham has been supporting NWG Business (part of the Northumbrian Water Group) in a new recruitment drive for 16 customer service staff, and is creating a bespoke higher apprenticeship programme to help the new workers gain the skills and knowledge required to meet the challenges of the industry.

The 16 new members of NWG Business staff will study for a higher apprenticeship in customer services, which is a nationally accredited work-based programme, and includes a higher education qualification such as a foundation degree or degree. 

Sharon Bennett, Director of Apprenticeships at New College Durham, said: “We initially supported Northumbria Water in understanding the Government’s new apprentice levy and what that meant for them as a company. 

“This led to us supporting them in running a two-day assessment centre to recruit 16 new members of staff and designing a higher apprenticeship in customer service that met the new government standards and incorporated elements of learning that will help the growth and sustainability of their business.”

New College Durham currently offer over 10 higher apprenticeships, and can design tailored programmes to suit the needs of individual employers.

Jane Austin, Head of HR and Communications at NWG business, said: “When we explored the possibilities of working together with New College Durham, we realised the benefits it could bring. It enables links to be formed between the worlds of education and work, and we are both benefiting from the support we give to each other as neighbours in the local community. 

“Partnerships are often described as an association between two or more people, but our growing relationship has taken this to a new level.” 

The North East Learning Enterprise Partnership has endorsed the mutually beneficial partnership.  Michelle Rainbow, the North East LEP’s Skills for Business Manager, said:

“We are very supportive of the Government’s drive to ensure high quality apprenticeships such as these are given the same standing in society as academic attainment and welcome this new partnership which is helping NWG Business futureproof its workforce. We hope it encourages many others to follow suit.”

If you would like to discuss how the new apprenticeship levy affects your business, the changes to training and funding, or to find out more about higher level apprenticeships contact or 0191 375 4500.

Related information

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Higher Apprenticeships

A higher apprenticeship is a work-based learning programme at a high skill level. You can gain nationally recognised higher education qualifications, such as a foundation degree, while being employed and learning job specific skills.

Apprenticeship - Business


Apprenticeships are linked to a particular job role and are a great first step towards a career. They comprise work-based training from an employer, in partnership with the college.