More than 1,000 apprentices have been taken on by companies across the North East in two months as part of a region-wide challenge.
The National Apprenticeship Service has announced the record-breaking figure two months into its 100-day apprenticeship challenge.
The challenge, which runs from March 31 to July 8, has so far supported 1,124 apprentices into work-based programmes with nearly 650 companies.
Backed by the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) and 28 local training providers, the purpose of the challenge is to encourage as many employers as possible to recruit apprentices over the specified period.
The news comes eight months after The Journal launched its Proud to Back Apprenticeships campaign, with training providers in the region reporting growing interest from both young people and employers.
Nick Wilson, deputy director for the Skills Funding Agency in the North East, said: “The overall ethos of the campaign is that by working collaboratively a much greater impact can be achieved and this exceptional milestone supports that.
“Apprenticeships are a great way for young people to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining real qualifications, setting them on the road to success in their chosen career.
“I would like to personally thank all the employers that have got behind our campaign this year and are now realising the business benefits that apprenticeships can bring to their company”.
South Shields-based MCPS Limited designs and manufactures equipment for the marine, offshore oil and gas and wind farm industries. It has boosted its workforce by recruiting eight apprentices and will soon bring another four onto their team.
MCPS HR manager John Clafton said: “We take on apprentices across the board and currently have 15 on our on-site programme.
“They work alongside our senior staff and not only do they learn the skills required, but they also climatise to a full day’s work. A lot of people forget, that these young people are fresh from school or college and are not used to an eight-hour shift. Apprenticeships not only up-skill young people they bed them into the world of work.
“Normally we offer a year-long apprenticeship but some of our more technical positions require a three-year programme.
“At the moment all of our apprentices - bar one - are male and it would be nice to receive a few more female applicants, especially for our engineering positions.”
NECC chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “It is great to see so many businesses across the North East getting behind this fantastic campaign.
“With the recovery accelerating, more firms need to grow their capacity to take advantage of new business opportunities and we can’t meet demand for skilled staff from within the region’s labour force.
“North East businesses are responding to this by investing in apprenticeships and NECC’s training team is seeing more and more firms recognise the importance of doing so.
“As the economy grows, it is not only an opportune time to make this investment, it is becoming increasingly urgent to fulfil the potential of our region, its businesses and its people.”