LEADING Tees Valley business figures are spearheading a drive to increase the number of firms taking on apprentices and graduates to tackle the region’s skills gap in engineering, science and manufacturing.
Later this month, the first in a series of events and initiatives by sector skills council Semta will provide advice, practical help and funding access to encourage firms to take on young people.
Chair of the council Kevin Fitzpatrick, vice president of Nissan’s UK manufacturing operations, will chair the seminar for firms in Durham and Tees Valley at the Excel Centre in Aycliffe on January 19.
Semta's North-east Regional Council member and managing director of Stockton-based plastics specialists Nifco Mike Matthews will open the first seminar on January 17 at the Skills Academy for Manufacturing Innovation for companies in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.
Audiences at the free events will feature inspiring stories by former apprentices who now hold management positions, hear from apprentices on what the world of work means to them and have a chance to meet funding and training providers.
John Evans, facility manager at the Caterpillar site in Stockton, which recently announced a £50m investment in UK operations, will be among those promoting the Semta initiatives.
With North-east youth unemployment at a record high, around 8,500 skilled workers due to retire in the next six years and a further 15,000 employees needing to improve their skills to ensure the North-east can perform as a world-class region, he believes the time is right to invest in people.
Mr Evans said: “Like many organisations here in the North-east, Caterpillar has felt the effect of the economic downturn.
“However, we now see an ideal opportunity to start to plan for growth in the future and in recruiting new apprentices, we are investing today to make sure we have the right skills in place to fulfil future demand for our products.”
Another contributor will be Richard Ebrahim, Nissan’s engineering director who began his career as an apprentice at Avery Dennison in Cramlington, Northumberland. He joined Nissan’s Washington plant as a project engineer before progressing to his current position.
Semta, who have their North-east offices at Wynyard Park, was one of the first organisations to gain its skills council licence in 2003. Semta’s employer led networks are made up of like-minded businesses representing aerospace, automotive, composites, electrical, electronics, maintenance, marine, mathematics, mechanical, metals and engineered metal products sectors.
It identifies and represents employer skills needs to governments and works with those who plan, fund and deliver education and training to raise sector competitiveness.
To register your attendance or for events information, please contact Jordan Crawford on 0845 643 9001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org