County Durham training provider aims to tackle skills shortage

South West Durham Training will be asking firms to show their commitment to apprenticeships by signing a pledge

Newcastle has the second highest concentration of apprentices in UK

A County Durham training provider is aiming to future-proof the skills shortage in engineering and manufacturing with an ambitious plan for businesses to recruit apprentices.

Details of the initiative will be revealed at a high profile business conference on July 8, with guest speakers from the Bank of England, Department for Business Innovation and Skills, NECC and Business Durham. The chief executive of South West Durham Training Trevor Alley, will chair the conference.

The business conference will address how the industry can future-proof their businesses along with thoughts from high profile speakers.

South West Durham Training will be asking firms to show their commitment to apprenticeships by signing a pledge.

In return, SWDT is offering to look after the paperwork, provide mentors and even help source funding to simplify the process of taking on young recruits.

South West Durham Training, based in Newton Aycliffe, has conducted research over the last year with employers and industry experts to develop training programmes that meet a skill shortage in manufacturing and engineering. Based on Aycliffe Business Park, it is offering a range of incentives designed to make taking on apprentices as easy as possible.

Mr Trevor Alley said: “We are all aware that there’s a need for more apprenticeships generally, and that’s a national problem.

“There are job shortages already in engineering in this region, and because we’re positioned where we are, we think we can be key in the regeneration of skills in this area, and that’s best done with apprenticeships.

“We have learners ready to go into apprenticeships, so employers will have a chance to meet the trainees, they can talk to them and interview them. If they want to, they can take learners on job trials.

“For those who haven’t taken on apprentices before we can provide employers with mentors to help look after the apprentices which will help with their transition into their workplace.

“In return for taking on apprentices, we’re also offering employers reduced rates for any commercial work that we provide.

“When we talked to employers they cited the above reasons for them not employing apprentices, these are the barriers that have hindered them. We’re offering firms help to overcome those barriers.”

There are proven benefits from taking on apprentices. Independent research shows businesses get improved products or services, new ideas being introduced to the organisation, higher staff morale and loyalty by recruiting young staff.

Statistics provided by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) also claim 96% of employers that take on an apprentices report benefits to their business, and 72% of businesses report improved productivity.

Mr Alley added: “There are tangible benefits from taking on apprentices and we just want to give businesses in this area as much information as possible.

“As the skills shortage looms, we have to ask ourselves ‘what are employers doing to future-proof the skills within their organisations?’ Apprentices are a solution to that.”

SWDT aims to hold the Employer Pledge event annually, with the aim of getting 50 businesses to sign up to the pledge every year.

To register for the event, call 0191 516 6100, email or book online at


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