An influx of jobs to a former unemployment blackspot in the North East show that the region’s “more and better jobs” strategy is working, it has been claimed.
Firms in East Durham – both relatively new and well-established – are looking to create a combined 800 more roles over the next three years, taking on 600 people in the next 12 months with a further 200 planned during 2016 and 2017.
The businesses - including manufacturers TRW, The AMA Group, Peterlee Glass and pharmaceutical firm Bristol Laboratories - have all outlined their intention to expand, bringing a much needed jobs boost to the area.
Bristol Laboratories is looking to take on around 300 employees as it continues to grow out of their base at Whitehouse Business Park.
The AMA Group has also confirmed plans to recruit between eight to 12 employees every month over the next year, taking headcount to between 180 to 200 by the end of this year.
Automotive manufacturer TRW is undergoing a period of significant growth and expects its workforce to rise from 700 to 1,000 by the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, Albany Assistance continues to expand and recently took on 65 employees in its call centre with further recruitment planned while, after a major investment, Peterlee Glass is looking to take on five skilled workers.
Mark Stephenson, policy and research manager at the NECC, said the job creation plans symbolise a rejuvenation of opportunities in an area that suffered greatly during the recession.
He said: “This news indicates that the NELEP’s strategy of ‘more and better jobs’ is coming to fruition, particularly in our high value added industries, such as the automotive sector and renewables, which is great news for East Durham and great news for the North East more generally.
“What it demonstrates is that even in parts of our region that have had to face up to genuine economic challenges we have turned a page and we have every reason to believe the story is only going to get better.
“The announcement is therefore a big boost with the opportunity for more wealth creation and just goes to show the force behind linking business, education and employment.
“Doubtless there is still a lot of work to be done but this is certainly a step in the right direction.”
Business Durham’s business development area manager Joanne Urquhart-Arnold sits on the Peterlee Business Park steering group and was not surprised that businesses in the area are thriving.
She said: “There’s a real positive vibe among the business community which is reflected in the recent announcements from a number of employers who are expanding and creating jobs.
“The encouraging thing is that growth is evident in a number of sectors, from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals, and it’s great to see the area doing so well.
“The steering group members, together with businesses, have worked incredibly hard to change perceptions of the area and raise its profile for the right reasons. Now I think there’s an acknowledgement that it’s not all doom and gloom here, that our businesses are growing and in the process creating jobs, bringing a huge boost to the area and its community.”
Across County Durham, there was a 35.1% decline in the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance in 2014. The figure now stands at 4,230.
Mrs Urquhart-Arnold said: “These figures speak volumes about the work that businesses are doing to help people get into work. With the recent announcements around job creation, we can expect more people to start working and the number of claimants continuing to fall.”