THE North East's best apprentices and apprentice employers are about to represent the region as finalists in the prestigious National Apprenticeship Awards.
Eight North East companies and apprentices will compete against nine other finalists from across the country in each of their award categories before the finals on June 29 in London.
The eight North East finalists representing the region at the national final are featured on these pages.
Reaching the final is a huge achievement.
This year the awards attracted a record number of applications with more than 1,600 entries – an increase of over 25% on last year’s awards.
Organised by the National Apprenticeship Service, the awards are designed to celebrate the achievements of apprentices and the businesses that employ them.
John Wayman, regional director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “The awards are a great opportunity to give our best employers and brightest young apprentices the credit they deserve.
“This year we received a record number of applications which signifies the rising status of apprenticeships and the popularity of apprenticeships goes from strength to strength as more and more companies expand their programmes and launch new ones.
“The variety of entries we have received highlights the wide number of opportunities apprenticeships can bring and it is clear by the calibre of entries that the bar of the competition has been raised.
“Each of our regional finalists is testament to the wealth of apprenticeship talent that we have across the North East and I wish them all every success at the national final.”
Apprenticeships offer young people a training route which combines work-based learning with theory and a recognised qualification, while employers experience a range of benefits when hiring an apprentice, including motivated, skilled staff and increased productivity. Last year more than 18,000 people in the North East started an apprenticeship, which is 7.4% more than 2008-2009.
This year the NAS in partnership with City & Guilds is producing a 2011 Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer List which will consist of the very best employers who entered the National Apprenticeship Awards 2011 employer categories.
The rise follows a Government drive to create thousands of apprenticeships nationwide to bridge the skills gap and reduce unemployment among the young.
The Journal and its sister paper the Evening Gazette launched the 100 in 100 campaign on January 20 with the aim of helping to create 100 apprenticeship places over 100 days, following similar campaigns across the country. Launched in association with the NAS and supported by the North East Chamber of Commerce, the campaign got off to a fantastic start, so much so that the initial target was surpassed by 83 apprentices in its first three weeks.
With a new target of 500 apprentices, the campaign continued to benefit from high-profile backing from some of the region’s key businesses, including US conglomerate Procter & Gamble on Tyneside and Newcastle-based Benfield Motor Group, which have both added additional apprentices during the campaign.
The campaign total reached 500 very quickly and even then the apprenticeships kept flooding in and at the end of the 100 days the total was 1,355 – the best result of the campaign in any part of the UK.
Visit www.apprenticeships.org.uk or call 08000 150 600 to find out more.