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Green futures

This week, Gateshead school children have been learning about the development of green technology in the North East and the jobs it will create for their future careers.

Over 100 schoolchildren aged nine to eleven from five Gateshead primary schools have been to find out more about Nissan’s new electric vehicle, the 100% electric LEAF and the use of wind energy at the Nissan Sunderland Plant.

This follows earlier an earlier visit to Woodhorn Colliery in Ashington to investigate the region’s former reliance on fossil fuels, and a visit Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Construction, where a new renewable energy training facility later this year. They also looked closely at the skills needed for different jobs and the development of energy in the region.

Cabinet member for children and young people at Gateshead Council, Councillor John McElroy, said, "Primary school children begin to consider themselves as either a high or low achiever as early as age eight. With that in mind, it’s important that we challenge their perceptions of the world of work throughout their school careers and show them how what they learn in the classroom applies to everyday life. This project is a great example of local industry working together with schools to raise the aspirations of our youngsters."

The project was put together by Gateshead Council and Gateshead College to give pupils a better understanding in how renewable energy has recently developed in the region and how it is already assisting a local organisations, such as Nissan, in producing nearly half a million cars sold globally every year.

Mick Brophy, managing director for business, innovation and development at Gateshead College, said, "These sessions will equip pupils with the knowledge and understanding of the importance of moving towards a green future, not just environmentally, but also socially and economically. These trips are being supported in the classroom with work on the history of local and surrounding area industries, how employment has changed and why there is a need for renewable energy."

It also introduced the children to future employment opportunities that will be available in industries like Nissan, which will soon produce electric cars as well as the batteries to power them.

Richard Ebrahim, Nissan Sunderland Plant Engineering Director, said: "We are always happy to welcome pupils into the plant so they can see the career opportunities that exist in manufacturing and engineering. Explaining about future production of lithium-ion batteries and the 100% electric Nissan LEAF at Sunderland Plant is a great way to illustrate the exciting new technologies that are emerging in our region."

Headteacher of Falla Park Primary, Denise Thompson, said, "Getting out of the classroom to see the development of green energies locally and the exciting opportunities that will be available for employment when this generation enters the world of work, will inspire them to work harder towards a brighter future. This has been an extremely valuable and enjoyable project for our children."

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