LEADING industrialists from across the North East have put their weight behind The Journal's campaign to boost the number of apprenticeships in the region.
The newly-formed North East Skills Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing is aiming to almost double the number of apprentices recruited in the sector this year while also taking on more graduates and upskilling existing workforces.
It is part of the push to encourage more firms to take on apprentices launched by The Journal and the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) last week as 100 Days: The Apprenticeship Challenge.
The new alliance is made up of representatives from all 12 local authorities, champion employers, business membership organisations, training providers and the NAS, who have joined forces to speak with one voice on the issue.
It hopes to help the manufacturing sector to lead the region into a new era of economic growth and job creation.
They want to get the message across to employers – especially small and medium-sized firms – that there is unprecedented support, including funding, to help recruit and train young people as well as adult apprentices, and make the process of hiring apprentices as easy as possible.
Last year The Journal worked with NAS with the aim of getting 100 firms to take on 100 apprentices in 100 days. Within a few weeks the campaign, also backed by our Teesside-based sister title the Evening Gazette, was so successful we had to increase the target to 500. And when the 100 days were up we were able to report that 1,355 new apprenticeships had been created.
The North East Skills Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing is being co-ordinated by Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies.