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Alex deems apprenticeship networking breakfast a success

A special business breakfast, hosted by Alex Cunningham and aimed at encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across the Tees Valley to take on apprentices, has successfully resulted in eight companies expressing support for the programme and a further 20 indicating their interest.

After learning that there is a shortage of placements for apprentices across the area, Labour’s Stockton North MP discussed the problem with Simon Hanson, Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses in the North East, and agreed to host an event to encourage employers to learn how they can both help and benefit and to promote the opportunities available.

And having assembled a working group of local businesses and regional organisations, including Stockton Riverside College, Stockton Council and Sembcorp, to help get employers involved, the networking breakfast has been hailed as a success for the region after attracting over 30 SMEs.

Alex said:

“I am delighted to learn that the recent event to demonstrate the business case for apprenticeships has begun to have an impact already, promoting the benefits to be had from offering apprenticeship opportunities.

“With the wealth of skills, knowledge and experience that exists across the Tees Valley, I was shocked to hear from employers such as Sembcorp that they were struggling to find suitable placements for apprentices to get hands-on experience.

“It was immediately clear that intervention is needed, and I am extremely grateful to the FSB and other partners for helping make this event happen.  However, while this is certainly a positive result, there is much more to do if we are to build on this momentum and ensure that our young people are able to find the placements they need to develop the skills that are their future and the future of our region.”

George Ritchie, Senior Vice President for HR at Sembcorp, which is spearheading the initiative on behalf of the Tees Valley’s process industry, said: “The response from employers has been extremely encouraging and I am really grateful to Alex for his invitation to speak at the event.

“SSDP is specifically tailored towards SMEs working in the process industry supply chain.  Employers will find it offers all the practical, as well as the financial, support that they will need to give one of our keen young people a start in this great industry and boost their businesses at the same time.”