But it’s also an opportunity to highlight how successfully apprenticeship training courses are being delivered across the North East and how local training providers such as Gateshead College are meeting the needs of business, equipping young apprentices with the skills employers need to be competitive and secure their future workforce needs.
Apprenticeships are becoming firmly entrenched as an integral training and employment option in the North East, with many of the leading employers opting to partner with Gateshead College to develop employee skills and ensure that they have a loyal and highly productive workforce.
Currently the college is training more than 2,000 apprentices across 450 companies in a bid to improve skilled employment region-wide following the development of partnerships with North East employers.
The range of companies embracing the benefit of apprenticeships in partnership with Gateshead College is significant and includes Mears, Persimmon, Vantec, Go North East, G4S Nexus and North East Joinery.
Furthermore, the long-established partnership between the college and Sunderland-based Nissan currently sees more than 600 apprentices undergoing training to gain the engineering and manufacturing skills that will support the introduction of new vehicles and investment in other resources.
Although unemployment in the region has fallen in the last twelve months, the current jobless rate of 8% is still well above the national average of 5.8%. Tackling unemployment is an issue that Gateshead College principal Judith Doyle plans to resolve by developing job opportunities through partnerships with local businesses of all sizes.
She said: “Apprenticeships don’t just benefit employers and learners, they have a much wider impact on the region in terms of improving the quality of people’s lives, cutting unemployment and driving economic growth.
“Businesses choose to work with us because we listen to and meet their needs; we understand every employer is different and we become a training partner not just a supplier of training. We get under the skin of what businesses need and we develop bespoke training and apprenticeships. We’ve developed successful apprenticeship programmes that have been delivering successfully for many years, indeed decades.”
Gateshead College was recently revealed as being in the top 10% of apprenticeship providers in England for a third year in a row.
Eighty percent of the college’s 1,421 apprentice learners completed their courses during the academic year 2013/14, which was considerably higher than the national average of 70%.
Not only has the college recently celebrated success by reaching a new milestone of apprentices and maintaining a place in the top 10% of apprenticeship providers, but they have also seen a positive impact on businesses.
Research by the Institute of the Motor Industry in 2014 highlighted the significant financial return companies can gain by investing in apprenticeships. The IMI’s study shows that, by the end of their third year, a well-recruited apprentice can generate between 150% and 300% return on investment.
The survey adds to a growing mass of evidence which overwhelmingly highlights a clear and significant financial return for employers who invest in apprenticeships – and not just in the automotive sector. Government figures show that apprenticeships across the board boost business productivity by an average of £214 per week, with 96% of employers claiming that apprentices are good for their business.