ONE of the region's biggest manufacturers has vowed to more than triple the number of apprentices is takes on each year as it prepares to take part in a major event aimed at tackling the North East's looming skills gap.
When facility manager John Evans, from Caterpillar’s vast factory in Stockton, takes to the stage at a double event organised by skills body Semta next week, he will serve as a powerful reminder of what can be achieved through an apprenticeship.
Having started his working life in the early 1980s as an apprentice, he now heads up a fabrications facility which employs more than 400 people and is currently in the throes of expansion.
Speaking ahead of the two Semta events which will focus on promoting apprenticeships and closing the North East’s skills gap in engineering, science and manufacturing, he said his factory would this year take on 14 new apprentices, compared to just four last year.
“It’s about filling the skills gap in the North East, which is not just important for businesses like mine, but for the whole engineering and manufacturing sectors,” he said.
“We want to promote manufacturing and engineering as a career and also, as part of that, promote apprenticeships. I will use the event to look at the benefits that apprenticeships bring to the workplace and the energy apprentices bring.
“I was an apprentice myself once and now I’m a facility manager for a fairly big company, which shows the possibilities of apprenticeships.”
Semta’s North East Regional Council, which is made up of local industrialists from the likes of Nifco, Tallent Automotive and Liebherr Cranes, will host its first seminar next Tuesday at the Skills Academy for Manufacturing Innovation in Sunderland, aimed at firms in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.
Next Thursday, January 19, Semta will cater for County Durham and Tees Valley firms, with an event at the Xcel Centre in Newton Aycliffe.
Japanese car giant Nissan has also lent its support to the Semta events, with Kevin Fitzpatrick, vice-president of the group’s UK manufacturing operations, chairing the Newton Aycliffe seminar.
Nissan’s engineering director Richard Ebrahim, who began his career as an apprentice at Avery Dennison in Cramlington, will also contribute to the events.
Semta is keen to hear from engineering and associated businesses interested in attending and discussing how the region can tackle the skills gap.
To register for attendance at either of its two events, contact Jordan Crawford on 08456 439 001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org