Research shows that the number of apprenticeships in engineering and manufacturing in the North East of England has increased by 70% over the past three years.
Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing, reports that 2,160 people have already started apprenticeships this year, compared to 1,880 in 2010 and 1,270 in 2009.
So far this year 491 engineering and manufacturing companies in the North East have taken on apprentices. The percentage of firms taking on apprentices now stands at 23%, an increase from 16% two years ago.
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 figures are moving in the right direction but we must keep up the momentum.”
Positive job announcements, earlier on in the year, at firms such as Nissan, Hitachi and Siemens will help create further opportunities, particularly in the supply chain.
The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) has also welcomed the increase, stressing the importance of the quality of the apprenticeships in the sector.
Sue Price, NAS divisional apprenticeship director, said: “The engineering sector in the North East has a proud history of apprenticeships and we are delighted to see that numbers are increasing.
“With an increasing demand for higher level skills, their importance has never been greater. For a strong and growing economy we must have a high level of skills to meet employer demand and apprenticeships are a vital way of achieving this.”
- For more information about Semta see semta.org.uk