Apprentices to help fix region's skills shortage

Released: Monday 29th October 2012 at 09:57

‘Apprenticeships’ was the theme of the first in a series of talks hosted by the University of Sunderland’s Business Clinic.

The aim of the session was to raise awareness of the ageing skilled workforce in the region and the need to secure the skills of experienced business people for the future through the apprenticeship system.

Currently figures show that only 23% of engineering and manufacturing firms in the North East are recruiting apprentices.

The event, which took place in the Faculty of Business and Law, attracted representatives from over 35 North East small and medium-sized businesses as well as a number of guest speakers including Councillor Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council.

He said, “The event demonstrated that by working in partnership, we are able to identify the barriers that businesses face when wanting to take on apprentices.”

Derek Watson, Head of the Business Clinic coordinated the event with the support of the University’s Employer Engagement team, Sunderland City Council and the Federation of Small Businesses.

He said, “A key attribute to the initiative was creating an interactive forum in which businesses could debate the regional and national skills shortages, their implications to the economy and the support businesses need in facing this looming crisis.”

The question that was debated most amongst SME delegates was not the cost of adopting the apprenticeship system, but the potential impact of not proactively responding to this ticking time bomb.

Amy Porter, Employer Accounts Manager at the National Apprenticeship Service revealed,  80% of employers say that apprenticeships will play a bigger part in their future recruitment policy.