A project spanning the Tees Valley that aims to promote apprenticeship opportunities for young people, being developed and guided by employers to deliver the skills they require to grow and prosper, risks missing its targets if more local employers are not persuaded to engage actively, Alex Cunningham has cautioned.
Stockton North’s MP has spoken of his concern that Government funding for the Sembcorp Skills Development Programme (SSDP) will expire at the end of July and is urging firms involved in supply chains for the region’s process industry cluster to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.
A long-term supporter of apprenticeship opportunities for young people and advocate of local industry, the Labour MP has called on SMEs in the sector to help provide local young people with meaningful placements that will nurture the skills that are important to employees and employers alike while cementing the region’s reputation for expertise in the sector.
Alex’s latest plea comes weeks after a business breakfast was held in conjunction with a working group of local businesses and regional organisations, including the Federation of Small Businesses, Stockton Riverside College, Stockton Borough Council and Sembcorp, to promote the Programme and help get employers involved.
“With the wealth of skills, knowledge and experience that exists across the Tees Valley, I am disappointed to be hearing from employers that they continue to struggle to find suitable placements for apprentices to get hands-on experience.
“While the recent networking breakfast yielded positive momentum, there is much more to do if we are to build on this 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.
“With funding already in place, and a supply of apprentices ready and waiting to learn the skills of the trades upon which Teesside is founded, Sembcorp – on behalf of many of the main process industry companies – has laid the foundations of a fantastic opportunity for local industry. SMEs are just a single step away from boosting their own business while safeguarding skills in the region for the future, but now they need to step up to the plate and take advantage of the support on offer.”