THE Journal's "100 in 100" campaign has helped the North East record the UK’s biggest increase in the creation of apprenticeships outside London.
New figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills show that the number of people starting apprenticeships in the region shot to 24,190 between August 2010 and April 2011 from 13,970 a year earlier.
The 73% jump in new starts is a clear indication that North East employers are giving the apprenticeship programme their full support and see it as a way in which to plug the skills gap and cut unemployment among the region’s young people.
The North East came only second only to London for the biggest increase in new apprenticeships in the UK. The city saw a 75% increase to 28,120 over the period.
The North West came third, recording a 60% increase in new apprentices to 57,590, which was also the largest number of any region.
The figures have been welcomed by the National Apprenticeship Service, which worked with the Journal and the Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough on a campaign to create 100 apprenticeships in 100 days.
The campaign met the target in just three weeks and went on to create 1,355 apprenticeships and was the most successful of its kind in the UK.
John Wayman, regional director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: “To have the biggest growth in apprenticeship numbers outside London is great news for the North East economy. This is an achievement that has undoubtedly been supported by the success of the recent “100 in 100” apprenticeship campaign with the Journal, Evening Gazette and many of the region’s colleges and training providers.
“The figures show that more employers than ever before in our region are seeing the value of employing apprentices to develop a highly skilled workforce now and for the future.
“Employers in the North East have always held apprenticeships in high esteem, but maybe thought that they were based in certain types in industry, such as engineering and manufacturing.
“By highlighting the fact that there are over 200 apprentice framework, including everything from hairdressing to residential care, the campaign has alerted many employers to the benefits of taking on an apprentice.
“The Government’s focus on apprenticeships has also made employers take notice of the programme once again as a way in which to create affordable employment during a difficult time.”
The new figures were also welcomed by Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith, who applauded the Government’s broader strategy to create 250,000 apprenticeship places by the end of this parliament.
He said: “This is the biggest increase in apprenticeships across the regions outside London and I’m pleased to see that the North East performing so well. “Unemployment, particularly among younger people, is a big issue in Northumberland.
“Apprenticeships are a great way of getting into work as they provide people with the skills and experience that employers are looking for.”