This year, The Journal is making every effort to boost the proportion of businesses in the region giving opportunities to young people through quality apprenticeship schemes.
Through our Proud to Back Apprentices campaign, supported by a host of major players in the North East business world, our aim is to narrow the skills gap, particularly in sectors like engineering and manufacturing.
The 2014 North East Business Awards, run by The Journal and its sister paper the Evening Gazette in Middlesbrough, will also be acknowledging businesses investing in training for the workforce. A new Apprentice Award has been created to celebrate those companies that recognise the importance of nurturing the next generation of highly skilled employees. Supporting the new category is Tees Valley Unlimited and Accenture. Tees Valley Unlimited – the public and private sector Local Enterprise Partnership for Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton, and Redcar and Cleveland – said it was proud to once again support the North East Business Awards.
TVU said in a statement: “It is vitally important that young people are inspired and encouraged to pursue training schemes, apprenticeships and college courses that equip them with the skills that will help grow existing Tees Valley industries and attract emerging sectors and new companies to the region.
“We need a talented pool of work-ready, confident young people with the ability to make a meaningful contribution to Tees Valley if we are to further progress our industrial base. In Tees Valley, we are lucky to have a range of organisations, education establishments and agencies all pulling together to equip young people with the practical experience and theoretical know-how to make themselves attractive to potential employers.
“We look forward to seeing the entries to the category and visiting the companies involved. Furthermore, we hope their examples of successful apprenticeship programmes inspire other organisations to consider how they too can help ready our workforce for tomorrow.”
For more information on TVU’s skills agenda, see the Skills Portal on www.teesvalleyunlimited.gov.uk
Management consulting, technology services and out-sourcing company Accenture is also backing the new award.
The firm says recruiting the right people with the right skills is a challenge for organisations of all sizes, adding that apprenticeships can make a big difference in addressing that challenge.
Recently, the subject has been in the spotlight, with the Government announcing this month that a number of organisations have been identified to pilot the recommendations of the Richard Review of Apprentices. Accenture is among those taking part in the Trailblazers pilot, and, given its history, the company is well placed. Since its North East Delivery Centre became part of Accenture’s global network in 2010, staff numbers increased from just over 200 to 340.
However, such success resulted in a dilemma of its own: how to recruit and retain the highly skilled workforce need to meet increasing client demands.
Hence, Accenture introduced a new three year apprenticeship programme for school leavers, tailor-made to the meet the needs of the company in the North East. This has involved a major investment and has resulted in an entirely new approach to the way the company recruits its workforce. Managing director of Accenture’s North East Delivery Centre Bob Paton said: “We are delighted to sponsor the Apprentice Award category. At Accenture we are extremely happy with the quality of the apprentices on our scheme and we see this as one of major recruitment channels over the next few years.’’
HOW TO ENTER
Go to www.nebusinessawards.co.uk to enter the North East Business Awards 2014 - or to book a table for one of the event dinners.