Young apprentices quiz minister over careers

Young apprentices from the North East's process industries were given the chance to question the UK's skills minister last week.

John Denham, the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, was cross-examined by four young apprentices on the Government's plans to improve skills levels and career prospects as he launched the North East ‘spoke' of the National Skills Academy Process Industries on Friday (13th June).

The Skills Academy is one of 10 established by the Government in response to the 2006 Leitch report on the need to upskill the UK's economy. The apprentices took part in a question and answer session at the event, which was held at the Skills Academy's national base at Teesside University.

John Denham said: "The Government is committed to working with business to tackle the skills shortages that stand between us and full employment and economic success. The process industry has big part to play in the economy. What I have heard today from employers the young apprentices gives me confidence that the Skills Academy will be a real force in the North East, training people for well paid jobs.

"The process industries have an urgent need to upskill the existing workforce and to attract 24,000 apprentices and 10,000 graduates over the next 10 years."

Bob Coxon, chairman of the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC), said: "Even if the industry was simply to stand still, it would still need a massive increase in skills levels and numbers. To achieve the growth required in order to survive and prosper we need to change the face of our skills platform dramatically.

"The work we do in this region, together with the other spokes around the country, will give the industry one voice through which to generate debate and real employer involvement in the future success of this thriving sector."

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