The transformation of the North East labour market in recent years has been remarkable, with employment levels frequently touching record highs and the gap between our unemployment rate and the national average narrowing significantly.
However, this progress has exacerbated long-standing skills gaps in key industries, while reforms to skills and education funding have deterred employers from investing in training.
Employers must be supported in their efforts to recruit, train and retain talented staff at all skill levels. Greater flexibility in funding would enable businesses and providers to work together to address skills needs.
While our region has been rightly recognised as an exemplar for its work in improving careers guidance, we should not rest on our laurels. Too many young people still receive inadequate advice. Meaningful engagement with business is an effective way of address this and we commit to providing opportunities for this to happen.
To move us towards a Working North East in 2019, we need:
- Greater flexibility for Apprenticeship Levy payers to allow them to use their levy funds to address skills gaps
- More support for SMEs to utliise the skills system; reducing complexity and allowing them to share resources
- Further improvements in careers advice and business engagement with education to provide young people with the right guidance on career options
- Policy decisions that support our world class Higher Education institutions and their role in the economy
- An immigration system that allows North East firms to attract and retain the right skills from around the world
- Government to listen and respond to business concerns about the viability of T-Levels
Download your copy of our Stronger North East 2019 campaign here.