Engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships in the north east have increased by 70 per cent over the past three years, according to Semta.
Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing, has seen 2,160 new starts already this year compared with 1,880 in 2010 and 1,270 in 2009.
So far this year, 491 engineering and manufacturing companies have taken on apprentices — meaning the number of companies recruiting apprentices has increased from 16 per cent to 23 per cent over the past two years.
In a statement, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Nissan’s vice-president for manufacturing in the UK and chair of the North East Skills Alliance, said the figures were encouraging but added that there was no room for complacency.
‘We are delighted to see such a significant increase in the number of apprentices being recruited,’ he said. ‘Our aim is to have 50 per cent of north-east engineering and manufacturing companies taking on apprentices by the end of 2016.
‘A lot of work is going into making it as easy as possible for companies to offer apprenticeships and graduate programmes, and to upskill their current workforce.
‘We need to see more firms, particularly smaller and medium-sized businesses, taking on apprentices if we are to meet the skills challenge this region faces. The figures are moving in the right direction but we must keep up the momentum.’
Positive job announcements at companies such as Nissan, Hitachi, Siemens and Nifco will help create further opportunities, particularly in the supply chain.
Semta’s research is said to show that around 8,500 skilled workers are due to retire in the next six years and a further 15,000 current employees need to improve their skills to ensure the north east remains viable.