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Business Leaders and School Heads met with Minister to discuss Apprenticeships and Skills in the North East

Business Leaders and School Heads met with Minister to discuss Apprenticeships and Skills in the North East  
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Matthew Hancock, Minister of State for further education, skills and lifelong learning, joined business leaders and School Heads from the region at an Apprenticeship Summit at Northumberland College on Friday to discuss skills and apprenticeships.

The Minister was invited by Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, who chaired a discussion on apprenticeships at the college's grade II listed Kirkley Hall.

As part of the summit organised by the MP and the college, Apprentices from Northumberland College received awards for outstanding achievement including Katie Hall, a Business Admin Apprentice at social housing provider, Bernicia, based in Ashington and Jason Janczyk who completed an Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering working for UK Coal and is now studying for an HNC in Engineering at the college's Ashington Campus on a part-time basis.

Business leaders included Hexham-based Egger, one of the leading manufacturers of wood based panels in Europe and SCA, one of the world's largest personal care manufacturers based in Prudhoe.

Northumberland College's learner success rates, which are above national averages, now firmly place the college within the top ten percent of colleges nationally. The college also recently secured £9million to redevelop its campus facilities.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "It's been fantastic meeting apprentices at Northumberland College and hearing first-hand from local businesses and schools.

"Figures out this week show there have been a rise of more than 14% in apprenticeships in Northumberland in the last year. We are developing this further in 2013 by extending apprenticeships to include graduate and post-graduate level learning."

Stuart Cutforth, Principal and Chief Executive of the college, said: "We offer over 40 Apprenticeships within industries as diverse as equine to horticulture and engineering to hairdressing. Our learners and the community are at the heart of our college, so discussing the skills needs of the area to ensure they meet the demands of employers, benefit young people and society is key."

Guy Opperman, who recruited his own Apprentice, Jade, to support his constituency office, said: "Many employers tell me they value Apprentices, because they find it makes their workplace more productive and provides their business with the right skill-set. We have a great story to tell on apprentices here in our region with numbers up over 50%"

Jacqui Henderson, Chair of Governors at Northumberland College, said: "Apprenticeships are ideal for those who want an alternative to going to university that will give them the opportunity to develop high level skills and secure sustainable employment. The good news is that Apprenticeship figures have increased in the college and in the region."

Northumberland College offers services and advice to businesses seeking to recruit Apprentices and can help employers access grant funding of up to £1,500.

Anyone wishing to find out about Apprenticeships should visit www.northumberland.ac.uk