Youngsters boost career hopes with Big Car Challenge

South Tyneside College assistant principal Geoff O'Neil, third left, with students and further representatives of South Tyneside College, Skills to Shineand the Durham Federation.
South Tyneside College assistant principal Geoff O'Neil, third left, with students and further representatives of South Tyneside College, Skills to Shineand the Durham Federation.

Youngsters from South Tyneside have put themselves in the driving seat as they boost their career prospects with an engineering challenge.

Pupils from the newly-launched Career College North East (CCNE) – a partnership between South Tyneside College and St Wilfrid’s RC Academy, in South Shields – are taking part in the Big Car Challenge.

It will see them design and build a manoeuvrable model car and learn how to manufacture it with the help of industry experts in a project to show them the world of work in action.

The first of six weekly sessions began with 22 pupils - aged between 13 and 15 - who were tasked with making models.

They also visited North East engineering specialist Ford Aerospace Ltd and butcher MI Dicksons to study their manufacturing processes.

The challenge is organised by Skills to Shine, a social enterprise which engages young people in project-based learning.

Also taking part are pupils from Fyndoune Community School, County Durham.

Geoff O’Neil, assistant principal at South Tyneside College, said: “This initiative will give these bright and talented learners the knowledge and skills needed to develop a manufacturing process.

“They face a double challenge in which they must prove the speed, distance and durability of their vehicle and also show how it can be manufactured.

“It’s a tough ask, and they also have to showcase their work to business experts to stand a chance of winning the competition.

“But the project has many benefits, including providing them with an excellent understanding of efficiency systems, health and safety, workflow systems, lean processes and quality control.

“This is an exciting project of the type that is needed to help young people understand better some of the career options open to them here in this region.”

In other sessions, youngesters will get support from business mentors to build manufacturing systems, as well as hone their presentation and pitching skills to create an exhibition stand.

The scheme will end on October 22, when they will present their ideas to a panel of business and industry experts.