The piece talked about how, with around 100 of the 730-strong workforce for the County Durham site already recruited, there was a feeling of pride that the vast majority of candidates in these early stages of recruitment had come from the surrounding area. Vitally, the standard had been very high.
It spoke volumes for the quality of people we have here in the region, not only at all levels of the manufacturing process, but in the administrative and support roles that go towards creating a world class engineering site.
The North East has a proud history as a manufacturing driving force in the UK economy and I am optimistic that this need not remain in the past. Inward investments from companies such as Nissan and Hitachi show growing confidence in the region from outside, while the passion of home grown businesses, such as Ebac, to remain and expand their operations here or reshore operations, show that this belief is shared by those with insider knowledge.
Whilst unemployment in the North East remains the highest of all UK regions, employment has risen by more than 40,000 in the last year and we are seeing bigger growth in the number of companies per capita than any other area outside of London.
As a former engineer, who now works to help firms here in the North East to recruit people within the industry, I see great candidates every day of the week; some of whom are looking to get back into work, others simply hoping to progress their careers in the region.
We have five great universities and some excellent colleges, producing high quality candidates that can and should be retained in the region where possible, to help drive our engineering and manufacturing industries forward. However, we need to ensure that not only are the opportunities there for them to build a career in the North East, but that they are aware of them.
Some companies are great at shouting about their successes and future prospects, and at engaging with education. Others, however, are not and, while doing fantastic work that would excite the most eager of candidates, fail to attract them, due to their low profile.
Great companies with vision, plus quality people, make a great recipe for growth. Whilst there is volume in jobs to be had from the big names, the smaller, hidden gem businesses hold the key to home grown job and wealth creation through engineering and manufacturing in the North East and they should be celebrated.
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