APPRENTICESHIPS in engineering and manufacturing have increased by 70% in the North East over the past three years, says a new report.
Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing has seen 2,160 new starts already this year compared to 1,880 in 2010 and 1,270 in 2009 – a 70% increase over three years.
So far this year 491 engineering and manufacturing companies have taken on apprentices – meaning the number of firms recruiting apprentices has increased from 16% to 23% over the past two years.
Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK, who chairs the North East Skills Alliance, co-ordinated by Semta, said the figures were encouraging but there was no room for complacency.
“We are delighted to see such a significant increase in the number of apprentices being recruited,” he said. “Our aim is to have 50% of North East engineering and manufacturing companies taking on apprentices by the end of 2016.
“A lot of work is going into making it as easy as possible for companies to offer apprenticeships and graduate programmes, and to upskill their current workforce.
“We need to see more firms, particularly smaller and medium-sized businesses, taking on apprentices if we are to meet the skills challenge this region faces.”
The announcement of plans to create jobs at companies including Nissan, Hitachi, Siemens and Nifco will help create further opportunities, particularly in the supply chain.
The National Apprenticeship Service has also welcomed the increase stressing the importance of the quality of the apprenticeships in the sector.