The Tees Valley Mayor today launched a new drive to accelerate the number of high quality apprenticeships, following a successful scheme which has helped support over 1,000 apprentices in the last year.
Visiting an apprentice that was supported by the scheme in Hartlepool-based Bridgman IBC, Ben Houchen launched the new programme, which will be funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority. The initiative will in particular support SMEs who create apprenticeships in sectors facing high demand from employers, identified in the Tees Valley Strategic Economic Plan, including:
- Advanced Manufacturing;
- Process, chemicals and energy;
- Health and biologics;
- Digital and creative;
- Culture and leisure; and
- Business and professional services.
The initiative will also offer support to smaller companies taking on apprentices aged 19-24, often for the first time. There will also be a drive to establish high quality, higher and degree level apprenticeships in the priority sectors.
The new initiative builds on experience of a devolved Apprenticeship Grant for Employers (AGE), which the Tees Valley Combined Authority delivered in 2016-17, following the devolution deal with government. As a result, over 1000 new apprentices have been created in over 750 companies, helping the Tees Valley to become one of the fastest growing areas of the country for apprenticeships.
Launching the new scheme, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “The idea you can only get on in life by going to university is nonsense. I’m a massive believer in vocational education, and that’s why I’ve made supporting proper apprenticeships a key part of my Plan for Growth.
“Now more than ever we need more of the skills that local businesses are crying out for. This new scheme will address this shortage by specifically targeting the sectors of our economy which have the highest growth potential. The Tees Valley has a strong track record of encouraging apprenticeships, with recent growth far higher than national rates. I want to build on this success, and urge businesses to come forward and work with us so that we can invest in developing home-grown talent.”
James Williams, an apprentice with the contracts team at Bridgman IBC who was supported through the previous scheme, said: “I’m learning many different skills through my apprenticeship. To be given this opportunity to learn and earn is fantastic and I hope to continue my career here at Bridgman once I have completed my apprenticeship.
“I would encourage other young people to explore the apprenticeship route and I hope that through the new grant scheme there will be lots of opportunities for other to benefit as I have.”