A leading peer has backed efforts to increase apprenticeships in the North East.
Lord Shipley, a Government adviser, has told peers it is “the job of everyone - not just the Government - to make a success of apprenticeships.”
The former Newcastle Council leader said that with an aging workforce the North East and the UK cannot afford to leave young people untrained.
The Liberal Democrat said: “We still have a shortage of quality apprenticeships, and we need to raise the status of technical education to overcome that.
“We need opportunities throughout the country, including in rural areas where schools, further education and manufacturing businesses, in particular, need to be coherently linked through an apprenticeship system.
“For apprenticeships to grow, people have to offer apprenticeships, other people must take them up and places and sectors must want to promote them. We have to build on good practice.”
Lord Shipley went on to praise newspapers such as The Journal, which is currently running a Proud to Back Apprentices campaign aimed at increasing opportunities for young people.
The peer said: “There is good practice when newspapers show leadership in supporting the growth of apprenticeships.
“I draw particular attention to The Journal in Newcastle upon Tyne, and congratulate it on its leadership in driving up the number of apprenticeships in the North East of England through its Proud to Back Apprentices campaign, which I am delighted to support. It is everybody’s responsibility, and lots more companies are needed to engage.
“Opportunities for girls and women are another aspect of this.
“I commend Hilary French, the president of the Girls’ Schools Association, who in a speech last week to its annual conference on Tyneside said that higher-level apprenticeships were one way in which young women could take up a career using science, maths or technology.
“She said: ‘I believe, and hope, that the link between schools and employers will strengthen over the coming years and that there will be an increasing focus on developing employment skills.
“I’d like to challenge independent school heads to embrace these alternative avenues. Parents too.
“There is huge potential in employer training courses and the new types of apprenticeships. We must not be sniffy about them.’ I concur absolutely with that.”