THE Journal's drive for companies to create as many apprenticeships as possible in 100 days has already surpassed the outstanding success of last year's campaign.
With three weeks to go 100 Days: The Apprenticeship Challenge has seen businesses from across the North East sign up 1,431 apprentices.
Last year, the campaign in the North East created 1,355 apprenticeships – more than any other region in the country – astonishing the organisers of a scheme which originally aimed to sign up 100 apprentices in 100 days.
The Apprenticeship Challenge is organised by the National Apprenticeship Service in association with the North East Chamber of Commerce, and championed by The Journal and its Teesside sister newspaper the Evening Gazette.
Alan Wallace, head of employer accounts for the NAS, said: “To have achieved 1,431 apprenticeships with three weeks still to go is a fantastic achievement.
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of support for the campaign by North East businesses and I would like to sincerely thank every employer who has committed to recruit an apprentice.
“Apprenticeships are an extremely cost-effective way of developing staff and offer a significant return on investment, and the level of employer support for the campaign from employers of all sizes and from all sectors is testament to this.”
The campaign aims to help companies in the region take on more staff and increase their skills base as well as help jobless people back into work.
North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “Clearly many other organisations across the North East share our drive and the region’s business community has once again responded in typical fashion, demonstrating its commitment to youth development.
“The North East is frequently the brunt of much criticism from the national media particularly in relation to unemployment statistics. To be able to answer our critics in such style is very satisfying.
“With so much negativity surrounding a double-dip recession and high levels of youth unemployment, news such as this success serves as an important reminder to us all that we can deliver our own opportunities and prosperity in the North East.” Journal editor Brian Aitken said: “The response we have had to this campaign has already been absolutely phenomenal.
“I hope other companies will help us keep up the momentum over the next three weeks.”