ONE of the region's biggest manufacturers has vowed to more than triple the number of apprentices is takes on each year as it prepares to take part in a major event aimed at tackling the North East's looming skills gap.
When facility manager John Evans, from Caterpillar’s vast factory in Stockton, takes to the stage at a double event organised by skills body Semta next week, he will serve as a powerful reminder of what can be achieved through an apprenticeship.
Having started his working life in the early 1980s as an apprentice, he now heads up a fabrications facility which employs more than 400 people and is currently in the throes of expansion.
Speaking ahead of the two Semta events which will focus on promoting apprenticeships and closing the North East’s skills gap in engineering, science and manufacturing, he said his factory would this year take on 14 new apprentices, compared to just four last year.
“It’s about filling the skills gap in the North East, which is not just important for businesses like mine, but for the whole engineering and manufacturing sectors,” he said.
“We want to promote manufacturing and engineering as a career and also, as part of that, promote apprenticeships. I will use the event to look at the benefits that apprenticeships bring to the workplace and the energy apprentices bring.
“I was an apprentice myself once and now I’m a facility manager for a fairly big company, which shows the possibilities of apprenticeships.”