Young mechanics are taking the next step on the career ladder after completing the initial training of their modern apprenticeships.
The 141 youngsters have been training in light vehicle mechanics for car chain Arnold Clark.
Now they will go on to join dealerships across the North East and beyond.
The group of trainees includes Joshua Savage and Kieren Bell-Chapman from Newcastle, and Kyle Stephenson from Chester-le-Street.
All three will now work alongside fully-qualified technicians in regional dealerships to learn skill such as vehicle servicing, assisting in a comprehensive MOT, removal and replacement of major components and electronic fault diagnostics
This month, the Journal launched a campaign to keep the North East working.
Proud To Back Apprenticeships is being run in partnership with our colleagues on the Evening Gazette in Teesside. We want to see more companies investing in training for the future.
And we are aiming to address the very real and growing skills gap which threatens the North’s proud history as a centre for manufacturing and innovation.
Sir Arnold Clark said he understands the importance of training for young individuals, businesses and the economy.
He said: “Modern Apprenticeships are an excellent stepping stone into the workplace and I hope that all suitably qualified school leavers will be offered the opportunity to train in the Modern Apprentice scheme over the coming months.
“In this tough economic climate, development of our skill base is essential.”
The Arnold Clark apprentices trained at the purpose built £10m GTC training centre in Glasgow.
David Scott, GTG chief executive, said half of large businesses are cutting their training budgets, meaning young people are not being considered for employment.
He said: “Investing in skills and training has never been more important in business.
“With Modern Apprenticeship programmes, a skilled and qualified workforce is created and a pathway leading young people into employment is developed.
“Training not only provides people with the skills necessary to do their jobs, but also highlights the employer’s dedication to developing and improving their staff.”
Some 8,500 skilled workers – 4,000 of them highly-skilled – in the are due to retire in the next five years, with too few people on the employment conveyor belt to replace them.
Already companies are having to turn away business because they don’t have enough skilled personnel to cope with more work, and that needs to be addressed.
All companies, no matter what sector they are in, need to understand that they risk losing out to competitors if they don’t invest in apprenticeships, as well as up-skilling and re-skilling their workforce.
You can show your support for our Proud to Back Apprentices campaign with just a few clicks. Add your company’s backing to our calls by logging on to http://bit.ly/backapprenticeships and filling in the simple form on the bottom of the page.