Campaign aiming to encourage apprentices

COMPANIES who have never taken on apprentices before are being encouraged to do so in a major initiative being launched next week with the full support of the region’s councils.

Grow North East aims to significantly increase the region’s skills base by recruiting more apprentices, graduates and upskilling the current workforce.

Each of the 12 local authorities – including Northumberland County Council – will be running their own events in partnership with businesses and Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, the North East Skills Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing, the National Apprenticeship Service and NEPIC (North East of England Process Industry Cluster).

On Monday the county council will be talking to employers at County Hall in Morpeth.

It is hoped at least 240 additional apprentices and 84 graduates will be recruited by the end of the year with 3,000 employees also partaking in advanced skills training.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK, chairman of the North East Skills Alliance recently formed by Semta, said: “We are aiming to help companies in the north east understand the need to invest in our people.”

The campaign aims to create a talent pool to help those who meet the criteria.

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Mr Fitzpatrick added: “We also recognise the need to make it as easy as possible for companies to offer apprenticeships and graduate programmes, and to upskill their current workforce.

“The advanced manufacturing and engineering sector has a long pedigree in the north east and many companies are investing and predicting growth. There is significant potential for job creation if, as a region, we can make sure our workforce is able to capitalise on these opportunities.

“It is not just about the big companies, there are opportunities across the sector. We want to encourage small and medium-sized companies, especially those who have never had an apprentice or graduate or have not recruited any in recent years to seize the moment and help the north east grow.”