Apprentices’ time has come. “Real business benefits await companies that are prepared to take on apprentices now”, says Paul Champion.

Apprentices’ time has come.

Real business benefits await companies that are prepared to take on apprentices now, says Paul Champion.

The case for apprenticeships has never been more compelling. In these challenging times, business leaders, trade unions and the Government all agree that apprenticeships are vital to the economy, meeting the training needs of employers and helping them to up-skill to confront the challenges ahead for us as a leading trading nation.

Apprenticeships are a proven, measurable and highly successful way to train workforces, making organisations more effective, productive and competitive by addressing skills gaps directly, even during difficult economic times.

Real business benefits await companies engaging with apprentices and today, with the sheer variety of apprenticeships on offer, all sectors of the economy can take advantage to harness fresh new talent.

Indeed, a Learning and Skills Council survey* among employers revealed that many saw apprenticeships as having real bottom-line benefits, helping to improve productivity and competiveness. It confirmed that training apprentices is more cost effective than hiring skilled staff, leading to lower recruitment costs.

Apprentices make a valuable contribution to their employers during their training period –many have shown their value to an organisation within the first few weeks of employment. What’s more, research by the National Apprenticeship Service has shown that more than 80% of people are likelier to use a business if it offers apprenticeships to young people.

A key advantage of apprenticeships is that they deliver skills shaped around the individual needs of a business while also helping employers to develop the expertise needed to keep pace with the latest developments in technology and working practices in their sector.

Many perceive apprenticeships as providing the impetus for the skilled workers needed for the future.

Apprentices are renowned for being eager, motivated, flexible, willing to learn and loyal to employers that have taken the time and money to invest in them. An apprentice is with you out of choice and wants to be there working for you. They have made an active decision to learn a skill, engage positively with the workplace and commit to learning a specific trade or career.

The Government has also signalled its commitment to supporting apprenticeships and sees them as a key weapon in securing Britain’s future skills’ needs, ensuring our industries are fully equipped to meet the challenges of competing for business against the emerging power houses like India and China and others by providing a highly trained and resourceful workforce.

The decision to allocate £200m of additional funding to support apprenticeships despite swingeing cuts in whole areas of the public sector, and the creation of 75,000 new apprentices, has been welcomed by those involved in training North East trade and industry – the North East Apprenticeship Company included – and is a clear signal of support by central government that apprenticeships are here to stay, and have a dynamic role to play in modern commerce.

Here, in the North East, we are not only demonstrating how our own region can benefit from apprenticeships but exporting our expertise and knowledge outwards to international markets, where we can show how employers in far flung destinations can take advantage of UK style apprenticeships in an effort to curb their own chronic youth unemployment problem.

I recently had the opportunity as managing director of the North East Apprenticeship Company to advise business leaders, government officials, vocational and training councils in Hong Kong about how they can tackle one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the Asia Pacific region.

Organisations like the British Chamber of Commerce recognise the scale of the problem and are looking to the UK’s lead, where the re-emergence of apprenticeships is being seen as vital in supporting the training needs of employers while equipping young people with the right skills for a career.

The message to Hong Kong and everywhere else is no different- apprenticeships are back to stay. Investing in structured schemes benefits business while providing a sense of belonging for young people, equipping them with the confidence and important skills to ensure they are able to go on to play a full role in both the company they work for and wider society.

* Apprenticeships, survey conducted by Populus on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council, Feb 2009.

Paul Champion is managing director of The North East Apprenticeship Company.

North East Apprenticeship Company achieves ‘Ethical’ Business Award

 North East Apprenticeship Company achieves ‘Ethical’ Business Award

Gateshead based North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC) has been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark, which proves they are in business to provide more opportunities to help society and protect the environment.

The Social Enterprise Mark Company is the only authority which certifies genuine social enterprises, having society and the environment at the heart of the business. The Social Enterprise Mark will establish social enterprise as the business of choice for everyone, acting as a guarantee that a business is trading for people and planet.

NEAC joins other ethical businesses that have been recognised by being awarded the Mark such as the Age UK, Eden Project, Big Issue, the Phone Coop and Fifteen London.

Government data estimates that there are 62,000 social enterprises across the UK, contributing £24 billion to the economy and employing around 800,000 people.

Recent research found that social enterprises are twice as confident of growth compared to typical small to medium enterprises (SMEs), with 48% of social enterprises saying they are positive about the future as opposed to just 24% of SMEs (The Social Enterprise Coalition’s State of Social Enterprise Survey, 2009).

Social enterprises plough the majority of their profits back into activities that benefit people and planet, rather than just lining shareholders pockets.  Social enterprises are working to make a difference across the UK and beyond, but not enough people know what they are or how they work. The Social Enterprise Mark aims to raise awareness of what social enterprises do in order to get more people to buy from, engage with, start up and work for social enterprises.

Paul Champion NEAC CEO said,  “We’re really proud to have been awarded the Social Enterprise Mark.  NEAC is absolutely committed to supporting sustainable businesses and consequently helping local communities to thrive and prosper”.

Lucy Findlay, Managing Director, Social Enterprise Mark Company, advised:

“We are delighted to award the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark to NEAC.  Social enterprises come in all shapes and forms so it’s great to see a vital, local Apprenticeship Company understanding the importance of being part of the wider social enterprise movement.”

“As the only certification process for social enterprise, the Mark guarantees businesses meet defined criteria, enabling consumers to recognise that they are trading to benefit people and planet. It also helps those businesses promote their business ethics and values. We hope that the Social Enterprise Mark will do for social enterprise what the Fairtrade Mark did for fair trade.”

Preparation Begins for Everest Trip

Well everyone, it’s getting closer and closer to the day that I leave for Everest.

I will hopefully be able to give you regular updates en route, depending on connection to Internet and cellular service, but I will do my best.

Please remember its all for a great cause: the Teenage Cancer Trust

The first trial is to get all of this into the red bag!!!

Amazingly I managed, and way under weight as well. I hope the rest of the trip is that easy…. But I very much doubt it!!!

Well I’ll post more as Sunday approaches.

A trip to London and Peterborough first. Keep coming back for Everest Trip News, to donate cash and for the best good news stories about Apprenticeships you can find anywhere in the universe.

Pass link onto all your friends, contacts or rich people!!

— Post From My Amazing Wandering iPhone

2011 Budget-More Apprenticeship Places NEAC can help.

Budget 2011: technical colleges and apprenticeships planned to tackle youth unemployment

Today the Government has announced the creation of up to 24 technical colleges, in an attempt to train up students between the ages of 11 and 19 in vocational skills.

This afternoon as part of his ‘Budget for Growth’, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne claimed employees in the UK were lower skilled and lower qualified than their counterparts in France and Germany.

To get over this, Osborne announced the creation of 12 vocational technical colleges this year, where students will be trained in work skills and have direct relationships with employers. It is planned that this number will grow to 24 by 2014.

In another move to reduce youth unemployment, the chancellor announced plans to increase the number of apprentices. According to the chancellor’s figures, only one in 10 employers in the UK offers apprenticeships, compared to one in four in Austria. In a bid to help young people into employment, Osborne announced an investment of £40 million to fund apprenticeships.

The chancellor said he hopes to create 100,000 apprenticeships over the next 10 years to “secure jobs and more growth”.

Paul Champion (CEO NEAC) said “this is avery exciting time to be part of the apprenticeship scene. We all have the responsibility to ensure our young people get the highest quality skills they can and the best opportunities open to them to have a bright future in the job market. NEAC is commited to taking up this challenge and we are always looking for likeminded employers to help us with this challenge”

If you want to be part ensuring that the UK becomes more skilled and more competative through investment in its young people, and you think you want to share this responsibility with the North East Apprenticeship Company, then give us a call on 0191 4902453 or visit

Invest in the Future, Benifit Today!

Budget 2011

Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, presented the 2011 Budget, lets see how it effects you?
Key measures in the Budget for businesses include:

A reduction in the main rate of corporation tax by a further one per cent. From April 2011, the rate will be reduced to 26 per cent with further yearly reductions of one per cent until 2014 when it will reach 23 per cent;

New Controlled Foreign Company rules to allow groups based in the UK to compete more effectively with those based overseas;

The abolition of 43 tax reliefs whose rationale is no longer valid – following recommendations from the Office of Tax Simplification;

Dropping existing proposals for specific regulations which would have cost business over £350m a year;

£100m for local authorities to repair potholes caused by the cold winter weather;

Increase the rate of R&D tax credits for small and medium-sized enterprises from 175 per cent to 225 per cent by April 2012;

21 new Enterprise Zones, to focus growth in specific parts of the UK;

Fuel duty will be cut by one penny per litre from 6pm on March 23.

The April 2011 inflation-only increase in fuel duty will be deferred to 1 January 2012; the April 2012 increase will be implemented on 1 August 2012;

A further increase to the income tax personal allowance for under 65s of £630 to £8,105 in April 2012;

Additional work experience placements and additional apprenticeships for young people;

Help for homeowners facing difficulties by extending the temporary changes to the Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme for an additional year and providing £250m to support first time buyers to purchase a new-build property.

Gateshead College Foundation

In difficult times it is always good to hear of organisations and senior managment teams that can be far sighted and innovative. Well done Gateshead College.

What is the Gateshead College Foundation?

It’s an independent charity set up by Gateshead College with the purpose of making sure that young people and adults, living in our region, can access funds to enable them to develop their skills and improve their life chances at Gateshead College.

It’s the first organisation of its kind in the region, and is something the College has had in the pipeline for a while, but the need to set it up has become more pressing with the current state of the economy and the funding cuts, which mean that for many it is more difficult to come to College than it ever has been. The abolition of EMA, cuts to fee remission for adults and other funding cuts are causing major issues for many students.

Education has the power to transform lives, and there is no greater need than now for people to have the chance to develop the skills they need to get jobs, improve their prospects and get our economy moving. The launch of the Foundation will remove some of the barriers that stand in their way and will also give those with particular talents the opportunity to thrive!

The Foundation will provide resources and support not available through other statutory routes, to people who want to study at Gateshead College; this might be in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, equipment, gifts, bursaries and prizes. It could help towards the payment of fees, pay for specialist equipment or uniforms, help talented athletes to go to competitions or help with travel costs – especially for those who live some distance away.

In addition to financial support, the Foundation will also seek to offer other forms of support, to ensure Gateshead College students experience the very best personal, professional and social development we can offer. This may take the form of mentoring support, volunteering opportunities, work experience programmes and community projects.

The Foundation will operate as a registered charity, and will be run by a nominated board of Trustees, that will be entirely independent from Gateshead College.

Who will benefit from the Gateshead College Foundation?Anyone who wishes to study at Gateshead College can apply to The Foundation for support.

All applications will be judged against set criteria, depending on the kind of support being requested.

All applications will be independently assessed by the Board of Trustees.

How did the Foundation come about?

Over the last two years, senior management at Gateshead College along with the Board of Governors, have been discussing ways in which the College can offer extra support to its students.

We know some families work hard and don’t get any government assistance but might struggle to pay for the extras, for example equipment or trips and visits. And there are others who, with the cuts to fee remission and EMA, will not even be able to get to College, never mind make the most of their time when they’re here. We know we needed to do something about that. Without helping people get the skills they need to improve their own prospects our economy will never recover and our communities will suffer.

How will people apply to the Foundation for support?

All applications for support will go directly to the Foundation.

Depending on which form of support is needed, individuals may be means tested, assessed on application or may be required to take part in an interview.

When will the Gateshead College Foundation be in operation?

The Gateshead College Foundation will be finalised in the next few weeks and a Board of Trustees will be appointed. The Foundation will be open for applications for students wishing to enrol, or continue learning at Gateshead College, from September 2011.

More information will be available going forward, as our plans are finalised

Where will funding for the Gateshead College Foundation come from?

Gateshead College will make an initial contribution of £1 million from its reserves and each year will contribute a small percentage of any surplus generated. Other funding will come from fundraising activity, corporate sponsorship, donations and gift aiding from the surplus of other commercial operations run by Gateshead College.

If you would like to sign up to receive more information about the Gateshead College Foundation, please call us on 0191 490 2246.

Apprenticeships campaign already huge success

A major campaign led by The Journal and Evening Gazette is aiming to boost the number of firms taking on apprentices in the North East. And, as Karen McLauchlan reports, it’s already a huge success.

Just a few success stories from the campaign so far

AN initiative to recruit new apprentices for ‘green’ training places has been launched. The North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC) is looking for young apprentices for employment in the environmental sector.

A DOCTOR’S surgery in Sunderland is offering a host of new services to patients after putting two of its receptionists through a healthcare apprenticeship. Lynn Hutchinson and Emma Keerie at the Happy House Surgery on Durham Road are now fully functioning healthcare assistants after becoming apprentices through Gateshead Council’s bespoke service.

A TEENAGER who has been helping to carry out a major North East regeneration project has been honoured for his commitment and dedication. Aaron Leonard from Gateshead has been handed the Apprentice of the Year Award by community regeneration specialist Frank Haslam Milan (FHM) North East.

TYNESIDE MP Catherine McKinnell, Labour MP for Newcastle North, has recruited her own apprentice – and has urged others to do the same. Sixteen-year-old Charlene Curry is now working in the constituency office in Westerhope, Newcastle, where she will complete a business administration qualification.

A TRAINEE female mechanic for the police is proving her worth in a male-dominated industry and is urging other women to pick up a wrench and take up an apprenticeship in the motor industry. Carly Willumsen, from Newcastle, enrolled at Gateshead College and is well under way with her two-year apprenticeship technician course at Northumbria Police Fleet Management at Killingworth, to become a full-time vehicle technician.

TRAINEE plumber Shane Lodge has a new career in the pipeline after becoming the 100th apprentice to join a thriving scheme. The 20-year-old from Eston took up a role with A&P Plumbing and Heating, of Normanby, thanks to the support of Redcar and Cleveland Council’s routes to employment team.

A SPECIALIST technology firm has bolstered its team by taking on its first apprentices. PolyPhotonix, which has its research plant at PETEC, NetPark in Sedgefield, is pioneering the development of organic light technology (OLED). It has taken on apprentices Josh Greg, 18, from Stockton and Sean Bolton, 19, from Middlesbrough.

A TEESSIDE teenager is looking forward to a digital future after the North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC) secured an apprenticeship for him at a Teesside e-commerce website designer. Sixteen-year-old Alex Smith from Great Ayton has been taken on as an apprentice at Visualsoft, where he will be working at its busy Stockton office.

TUC Apprenticeships Toolkit

This excellent toolkit is a resource for union reps and ULRs who are negotiating with employers on Apprenticeships or who are approaching an employer to discuss the possibility of taking on apprentices. The factsheets provide concise information on a range of topics related to Apprenticeships.

This toolkit is intended to be used as a reference and information resource for reps. Factsheets can be taken out and given directly to an employer if information on a specific topic is required.

Download full toolkit [PDF 1.6mb] go to: