A PROMINENT Teesside business boss today claimed the apprenticeship system in the UK has reached crisis point.
A report from the Centre for Policy Studies has revealed that only 28% of school leavers in England and Wales enrol on apprenticeships compared to about two- thirds in Germany and Austria.
It also said only about 5% of UK employers operate their own apprenticeships.
The shortfall of tens of thousands of apprentices needed to plug skills gaps is concerning Trevor Arnold, managing director of K Home International, of Thornaby.
He is a vocal advocate of apprenticeships with his company investing about £100,000 a year in them.
Since 1992 it has taken on about five trainees a year and all but four or five are still with the company.
Today Mr Arnold said the situation regarding a lack of apprenticeships in the UK had “reached crisis point”.
He said companies larger than K Home and in particular major manufacturing companies should set up apprenticeships which involved both college day release and on-site training.
He asked: “What’s going to happen when developments for the Olympics get into full swing? This area will be denuded of capability.”
He called for the Government to give money for training straight to firms instead of to quangos.
His comments came as the Government joined forces with employers from across England to launch a Skills Pledge to train staff.
Among the first organisations with a presence in the North-east to make the Skills Pledge are: Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK, the Student Loans Company, Hartlepool Council, Newcastle City Council and regional development agency One NorthEast.
They are making a public and voluntary commitment to support all their employees to develop basic skills, including numeracy and literacy.
The Leitch Review of Skills, published in December, warned that the UK must raise its game on skills at all levels if it was to sustain and improve its position in the global economy. The Skills Pledge fulfils a key recommendation made in the review.
Steve Pallas, of Nissan, said: “The business benefits of training are clear.”