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November 30, 2008

Mobile learning centre takes education further

Northumberland College is pushing forward the education boundaries and taking training direct to people and businesses in rural, remote areas through a new state-of-the-art mobile learning centre.

Creating by Event Marketing Solutions (EMS), the £200,000 hi-tech vehicle has been designed to provide a highly flexible, multi-vocational resource equipped to deliver everything from introductory courses to foundation degrees.

Carrying comprehensive on-board IT, the learning centre can be converted at the touch of a button to provide layouts including a conference room, a classroom and even a mini hair and beauty salon.

Distance learning: Northumberland College takes education further

Officially launched in mid-October, the vehicle has already been used to provide food hygiene training for hoteliers. Future bookings include delivering a two-year early years foundation degree course in the north of the Northumberland region and providing training for community-based NHS staff.

The college is now targeting businesses and community leaders across the rural north and west of the region to encourage them to take advantage of the innovative new service.

“This is a unique facility, which allows the most rural of communities to access a wide range of training opportunities otherwise denied to them,” said Rachel Ellis-Jones, principal and chief executive of Northumberland College.

Meanwhile, lecturer Paul Crulley, who led the development of the vehicle with EMS, said he was delighted with the finished article.

“We are thrilled at how EMS has turned our initial concept into reality,” he commented. “They met our every request with enthusiasm and practical advice, including sourcing more unusual items, such as magnetised walls and even a portable sink!”

The new vehicle was commissioned by the college to complement its original mobile learning centre – a smaller and less flexible unit that has proved so popular with businesses that the college could not meet all demand.

The cost of developing and building the vehicle was met by the college, in partnership with the Northumberland Strategic Partnership via the One North East regional development agency.

This is the second mobile training vehicle developed by EMS in 2008. Earlier this year, the company delivered a similar facility – the Skills Lorry, focusing primarily on providing vocational training for young people – to Thurrock Council.

“We are proud to have worked with these two organisations to pioneer innovative new ways of providing accessible, locally-based training and education,” said EMS managing director Keith Austin. “We expect to see growing demand for these custom-made solutions as other colleges and local authorities realise the potential of going mobile.”

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