Skills Builder

Azure offer their Skills Builder Programme as part of the Government study programme for 16-24 year olds and is funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).  This programme offers qualifications and hands on experience to young people in a work-based learning environment.



Eligibility – Who is it for?

The Skills Builder Programme at Azure is aimed at learners aged 16-24 living in Northumberland with disabilities or additional support needs.   Its aim is to help prepare young people for employment or the next step on their journey to employment.
Potential learners should be aged:

  • 16-18 with an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) or no EHCP with additional needs
  • 19-24 with an EHCP.


About the programme

The programme is an average of 40 weeks.  It can include Horticulture, Employability skills, Personal development, Work placement, ICT, English and Maths. The programme and support are tailored to meet individual needs and are reviewed on a monthly basis. This is all delivered in small groups with high staff ratio.

Horticulture - Learners can work towards a Level 1 Award or Certificate in Practical Horticulture Skills. This covers all areas of horticulture including: Seed sowing, establishing plants and harvesting, Plant identification, Pruning, Soil PH, Block Paving, Tool maintenance and maintaining wood structures.

Ready for Independence - Learners develop skills to become more independent.

Retail - Learners can work towards a Level 1 Award or Certificate in skills for working in Retail.

Employability Skills - Includes interview skills, application forms, job search techniques and CV building.

Personal Development - This can cover a wide range of areas and is tailored to each individual’s needs.  Some of the units available include: Managing personal finance, Team working, Customer Service, Healthy living, Environmental awareness, Food preparation and basic cooking.

Work Placements - Learners will be given the opportunity to undertake supported work placements in one of Azures businesses such as the Nurseries or Garden Centre.

English, Maths and ICT - these functional skills are included in every learner’s programme and each learner is given support to improve their skills. Activities take place in a group and individual setting and may lead to a relevant City and Guilds qualification.

Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) – Learners will take part in IAG group and individual sessions.  These sessions are intended to offer impartial advice and guidance about a way forward on completion of Azure Skills Builder programme.

Other options:
This programme is also available to learners who require specific aspects of a course or require Personal Development and Social Skills but do not wish to participate in the full programme. This can be accommodated on a day-to-day basis at an agreed cost per day. 

You can refer yourself through your school, care management or Employability and Skills Team.   

You are welcome to have a look around and an informal discussion with a member of the Skills Builder team and if you are interested we can look to arrange taster day(s).

Please contact Helen Campbell for more information
Tel: 01670 733 966


Learners joining the Skills builder programme will attend the centre 4 days a week.  Hours are 9.30am-3.15pm Mon/Tues/Thurs and 9.30am-2.00pm Fri.  Learners request holidays from their entitlement. Entitlement builds up and is 2 days holiday for every month of full attendance. Learners receive support with travel costs, qualification costs are fully covered and lunches/refreshments are provided.  Any equipment and PPE are supplied where needed.  See Bursary Funding below.

Bursary Funding:

The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund provides financial support to help students overcome specific barriers to participation so they can remain in education.

There are two types of 16 to 19 bursaries:

  • bursaries for defined vulnerable groups of up to £1,200 a year
  • discretionary bursaries which institutions award to meet individual needs, for example, help with the cost of transport, meals, books and equipment.

As a training provider we can tell you more.  You can ask us to assess your needs to see if you are eligible.


We will work very closely with learners and their families/support network to find a suitable progression after the Skills Builder programme.  For example this could be college, employment or further training.

Azure Skills Builder study programme is part of Northumberland County Council’s Local Offer.  See their website at:

Ofsted (inspection report), April 2018
“Learners consolidate their existing skills and make good progress in developing the competitencies that they need for a successful adult life.”

For more information about our Ofsted inspection report, visit their website.


Training Partners

This department works with a number of partners to deliver a range of services and programmes.