More than four-fifths of firms with staff in the north east say they plan to increase the number of young people on their payrolls in 2016, according to the latest employment trend survey by the Confederation of British Industry and Accenture.
The annual survey, now in its 18th year, also reveals that more than 55 per cent of firms in the region intend to take on new recruits this year.
Job prospects for young people remain positive, with many firms planning to recruit graduates and apprentices.
Sarah Glendinning, regional director of the CBI, said: “Firms in the north east are gearing up for a positive 2016, with many planning to create jobs, most of which will be permanent.
“Young people should find more chances to get a foot on the career ladder this year, with many firms looking to boost their intake of graduates and apprentices.
“It’s vital to see everyone enjoy the rewards of the recovery, and the north east has a big role in driving the UK economy forward.
“Growth should work for everyone, and raising skills is the key route to ensuring this happens through improved productivity and pay.”
Emma McGuigan, UK managing director of technology company Accenture, said: “Business optimism is absolutely clear, but these findings also signal a real challenge in the employment landscape.
“Most significantly, just under half of respondents reported that a lack of skills is threatening to have a major impact on the UK’s labour market competitiveness.
“For that reason, over half of respondents cited the development and maintenance of digital skills within organisations as having a new urgency, especially as a way to develop new revenue streams.
“The workforce of the future will not just be more digitally literate, but more capable of delivering new digital business models, customer experiences and business partnerships.
“These broader digital skills will be essential to boosting the UK’s competitiveness and sustainable employment growth.”