Mayor’s Fresh Call To Back Apprentices As More Than 1,500 Businesses Supported

Business & Invest | Published on: 7th February 2022

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (7 February) kicked off National Apprenticeship Week by calling on business leaders to back apprentices – as new figures show more than 1,500 companies have been helped to do so.

Since 2016, the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority have supported the creation of 1,757 apprentices at 1,525 businesses thanks to £4.8million of funding.

There is still support available to create apprenticeships, both through grant funding and wider assistance from Tees Valley Business, established by Mayor Houchen to provide easy to access advice, support, grants and loans to help businesses.

One such firm to benefit from help from the team was Render Alarms, which previously secured apprenticeship funding in 2017 but recently needed more help to connect with a course supplier to help it train its apprentices and take more on.

The firm, which has been operating since 1981, designs, installs and maintains fire and security systems. It currently employs three apprentices and three more engineers have recently completed their apprenticeships with the company.

Tees Valley Business connected the company to the Education Training Collective (The Etc) which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training and the Skills Academy. This prompted Redcar and Cleveland College to introduce a Fire, Emergency and Security Systems course which Render Alarms’ three apprentices enrolled in, as well as six others from across the region.

Mike Dickons, IT Manager at Render Alarms, said: “Tees Valley Business saved us by finding a course supplier for our apprentices – without that we would never have been able to take on another. We really were in a difficult situation as we rely on apprentices coming through to grow the company, we see them as the future of the business.

“It fills us with pride to see them develop, fresh out of school and having never held a screwdriver in their hands, to being fully competent engineers going out on their first job. They then go on to train new apprentices and help the company to grow.

“Tees Valley Business also helped us identify gaps in employee skills and local suppliers for qualifications so we don’t have to rely on national providers.

Mayor Houchen said: “Apprentices are a brilliant way for people of all ages to earn while they learn and go on to secure good-quality, well-paid jobs – whether they are just out of education or looking for a change of career.

“I’ve long highlighted the funding available for businesses to help create such roles, but the brilliant thing about support from Tees Valley Business is that it goes much further than that. For example, by linking Render Alarms to the Etc, it helped bring about a new course that wasn’t available just a few months ago.

“This is yet another example of how we’re giving people from across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool the skills they need to succeed right here, and the knowledge that our businesses are crying out for.

“As National Apprenticeship Week kicks off, I’d urge young people who might be set to leave school to consider apprenticeships as a fantastic alternative to going on to university, as well as companies to take a look and see what support is on offer.”

Gary Potts, Group Vice Principal for Business Innovation and Partnerships, at Education Training Collective said: “Ensuring that learners and employers are able to access the skills and training that matches their specific requirements is a fundamental part of the Etc. offer – connecting local people with local job opportunities – and partnerships with businesses are key to us being able to deliver on that.  We are really proud to work with the Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority, providing an effective solution to the skills need of Render Alarms through a high quality apprenticeship programme, and this is another example of just how beneficial apprenticeships are to both businesses and individuals.”

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