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Shadow cabinet minister puts college in the spotlight

News overview

Two major political figures visited Suffolk New College to find out how this educational establishment is supporting people of all ages get the skills they need to progress.

Darren Jones – Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary – and Jack Abbott – Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Ipswich – toured the campus based on Rope Walk and chatted to learners on civil engineering and electrical installation courses.

Jack Abbott, Darren Jones, Alan Burgess, Mary Gleave, and Marianne Flack

Mr Jones was then taken around a new Net Zero Skills Centre – a facility that is giving new generations knowledge of sustainable industries.

Darren Jones being given a tour of the Net Zero Skills Centre by Alan Burgess

After Mr Jones departed to visit the University of Suffolk, Mr Abbott sat down for around an hour, answering general student questions that covered everything from his favourite football team to the more pressing matters relating to his thoughts and ideas on the regeneration of the town centre in Ipswich.

On his visit, Mr Abbott said: “The students were brilliant – they were so switched on and engaged in terms of both their courses and what they want to do next. It was also brilliant to see them in the Net Zero Skill Centre that is giving them such an opportunity to get the skills and experiences to help them progress.”

Jack Abbott speaking with Engineering learners

In terms of Suffolk New College, Mr Abbott added: “It’s very important for any town wishing to get to the next level that we have capable and intelligent students coming through – and we definitely have that at Suffolk New College. What the college is doing is crucial – not just in terms of Ipswich but also the rest of the county, the region, and the country.”

Alan Burgess is the Director of Engineering, Construction, and Building Technologies at Suffolk New College. Alan said: “It was great to welcome Darren and Jack to the college. They were genuinely interested in finding out what our students are learning both inside and outside of the Net Zero Skills Centre. It was great for them to chat to them – not just on educational issues but also issues affecting them in their communities.

“It was also great for us as a college to showcase the fact that we are at the forefront of sustainability in terms of what we are teaching our learners.”

Alan added: “Events like this can also help massively in making our students become more politically motivated.”

Leo Banfield, 17, from Ipswich is studying on a T Level civil engineering course. Leo said: “I asked Mr Jones about education generally and he explained it is a top priority.”

Leo Banfield - Engineering Learner

Will Ward, 18, from Stowmarket is on a level two electrical installation course. Will said: “I talked to Darren and Jack about apprenticeships and T Levels. It was my first time talking to an MP – it was an easy-flowing conversation. This has made me want to look more into politics.”

Engineering learners with Jack Abbott and Darren Jones

Darren Jones MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “I was delighted to speak with and listen to the students from Suffolk New College in Ipswich. The skills being taught at the College will be in high demand as we begin to look at jobs for the future across the country. It is Labour’s Green Prosperity Plan that will deliver good jobs for local students, who are making their first steps in their careers and cheaper energy across the East of England.”  

Posted 23 April 2024