North East training providers plan for summer recruitment

TRAINING providers across the region have been helping employers to respond to the 500 in 100 campaign and are already gearing up for a recruitment surge during summer.

TRAINING providers across the region have been helping employers to respond to the 500 in 100 campaign and are already gearing up for a recruitment surge during summer.

Independent training providers are playing a key role in responding to the Government’s targets for apprenticeship recruitment with more than 70% of apprenticeships in the region delivered by independent providers.

The flexibility of delivery offered by independent training providers and the specialist expertise of their staff, are often seen as vital ingredients when employers look to choose a training provider to work with their staff.

The Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Association of Learning Providers (TWNALP) is a network of more than 40 independent training providers operating in the region, working with more than 6,000 apprentices and 1,000 employers on a daily basis, often with recruitment throughout the year, from individuals to large groups. TWNALP help to drive quality improvement of provision through its members, with providers sharing good practice and where appropriate arranging collaborative delivery, so that employers and individuals gain access to the widest range of high-quality, specialist support available.

TWNALP member Sunderland ITEC has a long-established reputation for delivering apprenticeship training for North East businesses. Washington-based Canford Group, an award-winning manufacturer and distributor of professional audio and video products, has recruited apprentices from Sunderland ITEC for nearly 20 years.

Canford requires highly skilled staff across a range of occupational areas. They have employed apprentices in warehousing, ICT, finance and business administration. Sunderland ITEC assist with the recruitment of suitable apprentices and then deliver learning programmes that compliment the guidance and experience they get from working at Canford.

Many of their apprentices have since progressed into more senior positions, as team leaders. Mark Brindley, Canford’s logistics manager, commented: “The partnership we have with Sunderland ITEC has developed over the last 20 years. They offer us tremendous candidates who all arrive with open minds ready to learn, that’s why in almost all cases we have been able to offer them a full-time post when they complete their training. We still have around 15 former trainees working with us.”

As well as recruiting new apprentices, employers are increasingly looking to offer apprenticeship training programmes to older staff who may not have formal qualifications or may need to retrain or up-skill.

Aptec is a leading manufacturer of specialist materials based near West Auckland, County Durham. At the start of 2011, five Aptec employees signed up for an apprenticeship in Team Leading with TWNALP member Zodiac Training. Recently Mike Hewett, Zodiac’s sales manager met with David Mitten, Aptec’s joint managing director at their West Auckland branch, to see how his staff were benefiting from their training.

One of Aptec’s key objectives in undertaking training through apprenticeships was to build on the skills of their team leaders and enhance the way in which they manage teams. Although just a few months into their programme, David is already seeing positive results.

David said: “What has been very positive is the approach taken, with staff shadowed in the jobs they do and notes recorded digitally avoiding unnecessary paper records. Zodiac’s flexible on-the-job approach is beneficial to the company, as well as the individual.”

After the initial success Aptec are now looking into additional training for staff.

Jon Smith, managing director of Zodiac Training said: “I am delighted we have been able to assist Aptec with achieving their goals. Working with Aptec has provided an ideal example of how adult apprenticeships can enhance an organisation’s capabilities in a cost-effective manner. Adult apprenticeships provide a great opportunity for developing staff and delivering business benefits.”

TWNALP chairman, Malcolm Armstrong, commented: “These are excellent examples of how our members can support learners of all ages and employers. Independent providers recruit from industry, so our staff have the knowledge and skills required to make our programmes relevant.

“Many of our members operate in niche, specialist sectors and have developed their expertise over many years to serve these sectors well. Our members understand that employers want delivery tailored to their needs, coping with shift patterns, busy periods etc.

“Our members often deliver 50 to 52 weeks of the year and aren’t tied to an academic year. Our members range from small, specialist providers to large, national organisations, but what they all have in common is a clear focus on delivering effective training programmes such as apprenticeships, usually delivered in the workplace, but always with business needs in mind.”

TWNALP members have supported the 500 apprentices in 100 days campaign and together have recruited more than 600 apprentices during the campaign period. With apprenticeships, advanced apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships available covering almost 100 frameworks from accounting to hairdressing, construction to health and social care, TWNALP members are confident they can continue to address the needs of most of the region’s employers.

Malcolm adds: “The campaign has been a great success, but now we need employers to plan for recruitment during the summer. More young people than ever are hoping to find apprenticeship opportunities when they complete their studies, so we need businesses to plan for recruitment now.”

Employers who want to access support through TWNALP members should email Brian Burr at


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer